On the 17th October 2006, my 16 year old self walked into the Mandela Hall in Belfast to watch none other than the kings of cheesy, power metal; DragonForce. It was on this night that my teenage ears were also introduced to the support band who were none other than Northern Irish titans at the time; Fireland. Fast forward 10 years to the year 2016, a year that was full of political sorrow and influential deaths. It was this year where Fireland rose from the ashes after a lengthy hiatus with their third release; “Fireland III: Believe Or Die.”
Right from the get go there was a big difference in sound compared the band’s previous work, from lead vocalist David Brown’s (Chaos Frame) operatic voice compared to the vocal predecessor, to a much tighter sound mix courtesy of Mr. Steve Moore who was working double shift between engineer and guitarist for the album. It was safe to say, riffs were promised and riffs was what was received, predominantly in the album’s opening tracks; “John Rock” and “Believe Or Die.”
As the album progressed the tracks got stronger and stronger. Even though the riffs got slower (while remaining chunky), the choir of powerful vocal harmonies, straight from the vocal chords of the angels that sit on high with the Gods of Metal! “Iron Clad” was the strongest track where these attributes featured, while David Brown unleashed his inner Rob Halford (Judas Priest) as he brought forth a collection of high pitched screams.
Remember when I mentioned about the riffs slowing down? Well that was so the band had enough energy for the kick ass track entitled “Fallen II.” This 9 minutes and 30 seconds track was a continuation from the “Fallen” story, a story that began on the band’s debut album back in 2008. What could I say about this track? I think “masterpiece” is the term I was looking for as the band gave it everything they’ve got here; with a musicalesque introduction, that then kicked straight into riffs galore. It was here where drummer Chris Mawhinney shone as he not only kept up the pace for this lengthy track but showed off a variety of thunderous drumming techniques. The use of special guests from a females voice to the chilling words “rest in peace Daddy,” helped add character to this performance.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7_3nyb3Y_o&w=560&h=315]
It was only fair that after over 9 minutes of pure, heavy metal that the listener was treated to some acoustic sounds the track “Murderhole.” Don’t let the calming sounds of acoustic guitars fool you thoug as there was a lot of venom that came from spitting out from the lyrics. To add a little humour to this review, the first thing that came to my mind while listening to this piece was “Wonderboy” by Tenacious D, especially when the acoustic solo kicked in. Of course there is nothing more metal than an acoustic solo!
Thankfully my headphones were alive by the time the melodic “Rise Again” brought this riff-tastic album to a close. It was here where I just sat back, breathed in and went “holy f**k” to myself after what all I had just heard. This album may have taken quite a period of time to get released but it was certainly worth the wait. The work that each member of the band put into making this album was second to none; I will admit though, at times I felt this album sounded like an album by Stormzone (Steve Moore’s main band), however the unique sounds here and there set this album apart from the rest of the work, by any of the members of the band’s musical history.
So now I urge you, the good readers of Planetmosh, cast your vote as to who you wish to spend you hard earned money on. On November 18th 2016 it will be Fireland vs. Metallica, you decide as to who wins as kings of the riff. I know who I voted for!
01. John Rock
02. Believe Or Die
03. My Enemy’s Enemy
05. Burning Scarecrow
06. Hell Hotel
07. Fallen II
09. Hate Will Live On
10. Rise Again
“Fireland III: Believe Or Die” is set for release on the 18th November 2016 via the band’s website and all major music outlets.