Fatal Fire – Arson (MDD Records)

Wednesday, 27th March 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

When you have the chance to slowly unveil your art due to a global crisis, the results can pay huge dividends in making an indelible first impression. Case in point, German power metal outfit Fatal Fire – aligning as a group in 2020, the quintet spent a few years on their songwriting plus playing about twenty shows/festivals when venues finally opened back up in 2022-23. Which makes this debut album Arson even more seasoned than most first full-lengths – road testing can tighten up parts, extend others, or just cause musicians to develop laser beam focus on what main components work best for their style.

The energy is palpable throughout the eight tracks – sitting firmly in the classic power camp where influences pull from the speed/thrash camps more than lighter, commercial aspects. The twin harmonies from guitarists Tim Kremer and Valentyn Subotovic create fist pumping heroics along with a hefty set of gallop heavy rhythms or sinister traditional tradeoffs. Most will salivate on the dynamic diversity set into motion for “Dawn of Fate” or triumphant opener “Destruction”, the latter bursting with a mix of Blind Guardian/Rage-like energy next to comfortable early Maiden-ish charm. At other times the heavier down-picking nature along with progressive twists in unexpected places reaches into the back catalog of Iced Earth (circa Night of the Stormrider) or even Bay Area thrash – allowing singer Svenja Rohmann to stretch her sultry voice into various rock/metal tones. Her bluesy touch intensifies the groove-laden “Crossroads” while additionally infectious in higher notations for the speedy, commanding “Kingslayer”. Till Felden has the juggling chops down pat as a versatile drummer – he can go from straightforward tempo play to transitional speed, power, or thrash execution song to song, providing plenty of highlight reel moments throughout the record. Concluding the record on a thoughtful note is “Ardent Wave” – a calmer bass/clean guitar start transforms into this uplifting semi-power ballad arrangement to showcase Svenja’s supreme multi-part vocal abilities.

A minor criticism lies in the specific snare tone choice for the record – the ‘sprinkler system’ aspect diminishes the obvious talent behind Till’s performances. In the end though, Fatal Fire have made a strong initial impression, creating a killer traditional power metal effort in Arson that pulls from Teutonic/North American cultural influences of the 80s and early 90s that may end up on a lot of best newcomer of the year lists.

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