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From the Fire

30 Days & Dirty Nights / Evil Men Do / OctOpus

Review by Gary Hill

This new three-CD collection gathers up the output of the band From the Fire. As the story goes, their first disc was released in 1991. When the grunge movement took over radio and the public's attention, the type of melodic hard rock they were creating just wasn't what was trending. So, they broke up after the album went largely unnoticed, and didn't release any more music for two decades. They got back together in the 2010s, and the two newer albums here come from that era.

The thing is, I'm sure that the grunge thing had a negative impact on their career. I'm not convinced that they would have been big without that, though. Don't get me wrong, these guys create that AOR styled mainstream sound as well as any of the greats out there - right up there with Journey. I'm just not sure that they took enough chances - particularly at first - to really stand out from the crowd. Then again, had grunge not happen, they would have probably had at least another album or two try to develop their own sound. And, the later discs do have some moments that stretch things a bit. Even when they play it safe, though, these guys are really very good. Their songs are catchy and the production is just about perfect.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1
                   
30 Days & Dirty Nights (Originally Released 1991)
                
Hold On

Keyboards bring this into being. The rest of the band jump in, and melodic hard rock drives the cut. This has some killer hooks and some classic rocking textures. It gets seriously hard rocking with some killer guitar soloing further down the road.

Same Song
There is a bit more of a metallic edge to this, but the cut also has an soulful AOR vibe to it. Catchy and mainstream, it works well. There is some more scorching guitar work on the later sections of this tune.
Tears Cried In the Rain
AOR music like Journey seems combined with a more hair metal sound on this thing. The cut has a great rocking groove and some classy hooks. This time it's a saxophone that wails on the later sections of the tune.
Over Your Head
Coming in seriously metallic, this works out to more of the AOR styled stuff for the verse. This is a real powerhouse tune. It's mainstream, but there is a real hair metal edge to it.
Take My Heart
An odd little introduction gives way to a keyboard arrangement. That serves as the backdrop for the vocals. The cut grows outward from there in a very pop rock based thing that calls to mind bands like Foreigner. It rocks out on the chorus, with a pop metal vibe to it.
Lovestruck
Now, this piece is a full on metal tune, in the 1980s vein. It's catchy and also meaty.
Spark And Flame
This time around we're back into metal zones, too. This is still set in that 80s texture, but the vocal delivery has some seriously rocking moments thanks to guest Theresa Straley. The guitar soloing on this is on fire.
Go All The Way
Here they cover a song by the Raspberries, bringing a bit of glam rock vibe to the thing. I've always liked this tune, and this version breathes a new vitality into it.
Where Are You Now
We're back into mainstream pop rock zones with this cut. It's a solid and catchy piece, but really pales compared to the previous few.
CD 2
         
Evil Men Do (Originally Released 2014)
                   
In Your Dreams

This comes in with bit less AOR edge and more real metal texture than the previous disc showed off. It drops down to more of that pop rock thing after the introduction, though. The guitar sound on this is particularly tasty. The closing movement gets quite meaty.

Leave Me Alone
That AOR rock sound with a bit of a prog meets metal edge drives this killer tune. The vocal performance is particularly effective, and there are some mean guitar fills in the mix.
Liar
This is another powerhouse cut with plenty of metal in the mix. In fact, it's one of the most purely metallic tunes of the entire set. It's also fierce.
Into Your Heart
Starting with piano, this is essentially a power ballad. It manages to really rock as it builds out later.
Evil Men Do
Intricate acoustic guitar, augmented by guitar brings this cut into being. It works out from there with a rather complex arrangement that leans toward progressive rock. As the vocals come in over the top, this becomes one of the most potent pieces of the set. The cut has some powered up moments, but never loses sight of the evocative drama. There is some killer guitar work on a more fired up section later in the piece.
From The Fire
Another AOR rocker, this has metal and more in the mix. It's a classy cut that even has hints of prog in the mix. It's a powerhouse in a lot of ways.
Blame It On The Moon
Piano opens this cut. The vocals come in over the top. After the first vocal segment other instruments rise up to augment the arrangement. It drives onward in style after that. This is another has sort of a power ballad approach.
Stagefright (Some Kind Of Dream)
There is a definite blues rock vibe, brought home to a large degree by the slide guitar, to this cut. It does have a bit of a dreamy feeling to it in some ways, though. It's like a merging of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin in some ways. The hard rocking section around the three-and-a-half minute mark brings some serious metal to the table, too. It shifts out to some cool guitar solo based stuff from there that calls to mind Pink Floyd a bit.
Never Be Lonely
Melodic hard rock, pretty much exactly what you'd expect, is the order of business here. This is an accessible cut that still has some meat on the bones.       
Forever And A Day
There is a bit of a folk rock vibe to this in some ways. It's a classy cut that works really well. It also provides some variety and is one of the few "think outside of the box" pieces of the set. This is strong and actually one of the highlights of the set.
CD 3
                    
OctOpus (Originally Released 2016)
          
Left Him Lonely

I dig the dramatic introduction on this. The cut launches into a powerhouse number that's one of the most decidedly metallic (albeit pop rock based metal) pieces of the set. This is also a highlight of the whole package.

Perfume And Leather
Another that powers in with a real metal vibe, this works to more of a straight-ahead rock and roll vibe from there. The chorus is so catchy.
That's How Love Starts
Starting with keyboards, this launches into a mainstream rocker that feels so much like something Journey would do that it's scary. It has a bit of a crunchy edge to it.
Every Beat Of My Heart
A 70s pop rock kind of vibe is all over this. It calls to mind the kind of stuff Head East and Rainbow (post Dio) did.
You Will Survive
Intricate guitar brings this into being with some hints of Spanish texture. After the introduction it rises to more of a lush, but still rather balladic, rock arrangement. It drops from there to piano for the entrance of the vocals. This gets pretty powerful, again as sort of a powered up ballad.
Madman
Keyboards brings this into being, but it quickly shifts to the most decidedly metal jam of the entire set. The riff driving it is tasty and the guitar fills are so classy. The vocal approach is a big change, too. This powerhouse number is another highlight of the set. In fact, this might be my favorite cut here. It definitely benefits from the whole "taking chances" thing.
Cry For Me
This comes in with more of a rock ballad approach. There female lead vocals on the cut, but I couldn't find a credit telling who that is. Still, it's a nice change, feeling a little bit like Heart to me.           
Requiem / Ground Zero
The opening part of this two-fer is a keyboard based introduction. The cut fires out into another screaming hot hard rocker that leans toward metal further down the road.
The Night I Made You Mine
A tasty power ballad, this has some great textures and tones built into it. There is some killer guitar work built into it later.
Right Down The Middle
An acapella bit serves as the introduction. As the band powers in from there, that Head East and Rainbow vibe is all over it. This turns to a seriously metallic stomper at the end, though. There is also a false ending with bit of a reprise at the end.
Bonustrack
    
Here For Christmas (bonus track)

This is such a cool hard rocker. This should really be a new holiday classic. The song is a powerful, rather metallic piece.

 
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