Album Review: The Safety Fire – “Mouth Of Swords”
Last year saw The Safety Fire release their debut album ‘Grind The Ocean’ to a wave of positivity. Their blend of Djent/prog-metal and commercial leanings struck a chord with a crossover audience and it didn’t take them long to head in the studio to record their follow up “Mouth Of Swords”.
Now this is always a gamble, new band, pumped up on the reception for their first record rush to get out their second record, surely that’s a recipe for disaster right?
Well, fans of ‘Grind The Ocean’ needn’t worry “Mouth Of Swords” opens with the title track and it’s business as usual. Shifting guitar lines dance around a unpredictable rhythm section while Sean McWeeny’s vocals seem to have been taken up a notch. His range seems to have gained an extra half an octave and he has found further nuances for his screaming. All this adds up to ‘sit back relax and enjoy the ride’.
The biggest difference, and one guitarist and primary songwriter Dez Nagle admits to is the songs lean to being a more ‘direct, rock kind of feel’. However in the world of prog-metal ‘direct’ is a relative term, riffs come thick and fast and each song has enough sections squeezed into it that most ‘direct’ rock bands would save for a whole album and possibly the next. Standout tracks such as ‘Glass Crush’ with it’s frenetic almost thrash-like verse and ‘Beware The Leopard (Jagwar)’ marry the more commercial side of The Safety Fire’s sound with heavier sections perfectly. This is not to say this is a band without faults, at times they veer dangerously close to being a prog 30 Seconds To Mars but always seem to pull it back just in time. Plus unlike that band they could never be accused of doing the same song over and over again. In fact on the second half of the album they pull out a song like ‘Wise Hands’ which could be labelled as a ballad (albeit a twisty, turny multi-layered one) and McWeeney shows how well he can actually hold a song when no extreme vocals are called for.
Although by no means an easy listen, The Safety Fire have produced the goods on album number two and have come one step closer to bridging the prog/direct rock gap.