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By Sound Of Guns
There's something vaguely Snow Patrol-esque about the general aura of earnestness and feeling that enshrouds Sound of Guns' debut full-length. 'What Came From Fire' is an album of big, heartfelt indie-rock ballads with stadium-pleasing choruses but, while it's easy to imagine their glossy, sleek anthems clogging up the mainstream radio waves, Sound of Guns always throw a spanner in the works. Whether it's an under-produced crackle or an unusual riff, Sound of Guns manage to sound accessible and instantly likeable, without being buffeted to a sterile shine.
Previous single 'Architects' is a gleaming howl of mainstream rock, underpinned by that aforementioned crackle, while some unusual riffing is on the cards for 'Elementary of Youth' and 'Bullets In The Bloodstream.'
Sound of Guns churn out a bristling riff that rises and falls and grumbles like a chainsaw beneath 'Bullets In The Bloodstream's sleek surface, while frontman Andy labours to ensure every line is bursting with hooks. But, it's in the closing moments where 'Bullets In The Bloodstream' really comes into its own, cherry-picking this song's most urgent lyrics, sticking that aforementioned grating riff on a loop, and cranking the volume up to maximum. A majestic ending to an already dramatic song.
Meanwhile, on 'Elementary of Youth,' the vocals and the guitars team up, jagging to the exact same, back-and-forth rhythm, amidst lashings of your atypically dramatic, rock-ballad riffing. Impressively, Andy navigates those knife-edge vocal turns, whilst still managing to sound melodic.
Lead-off single 'Alcatraz' makes good use of Andy's vocal prowess, replacing the usual two-storey-high chorus with a lively call-and-response vocal ricochet that's pretty much irresistible. Expect to be singing along, halfway through your very first experience of 'Alcatraz.'
'Collisions' and 'My White Noise' are a little bit different. On 'Collisions,' Sound of Guns take a breather from bellowing their hearts out, and concentrate on having a good time. 'Collisions' has an infectious groove, and Andy even test-drives a very stylish, hard-rock-infused holler, which adds to this song's jazzy cool. Meanwhile, on 'My White Noise' it's the easy-on-the-ear melodies which are given the elbow. After rattling your teeth with a barrage of pointed drumbeats, this spiny track lurches into a chorus of gunshot-drumming and spiky vocals that'll needle you into submission. 'My White Noise' is big, shiny, melodic rock, with neat little hooky barbs you won't be expecting.
It's difficult to pick favourites when it comes to 'What Came From Fire,' not just because of the consistent high quality, but because 90% of this album is cut from the same musical cloth. 'What Came From Fire' is as samey as any one album can sound, without losing the listener's interest. But, by a fraction, album highlights are 'Backs of Butterflies' and the aptly-named 'Lightspeed.' The latter kicks off with a ferocious drum-roll and escalates from there into a cinematic swirl of mammoth vocals and wave upon wave of guitars, where every chink of white space is crammed full of urgent backing vocals. 'Lightspeed' is a blast of three dimensional musical drama with a storm of a chorus.
Other highpoint 'Backs of Butterflies' can boast this album's best chorus, serving up a wonderfully no-nonsense, rabble-raising stomp that was designed to rattle stadium rafters. 'Backs of Butterflies' is a life-affirming tidal wave of big, fat, juicy vocals and a drumline that'll get your head nodding and your feet stamping in no time.
Album low point is the pretty, languid, six-minute-plus snooze-fest of '106 (Still The Words).' The synth-encrusted guitars drift along and, if it wasn't for the vaguely tribal rumble of the drums, the entire verse would be a completely pointless outing. Sound of Guns do finally kick it into second gear for the chorus. Despite the awkward verse-to-chorus transition, the choruses do have a swing to their step, and after so many pointless, sparkling riffs, this just might just feel like the edgiest thing you've ever heard. The overriding impression of '101 (Still The Words)' is that this song doesn't have nearly enough ideas to justify its six and a half minute running time: nowhere is this more apparent than the draggingly dull closing minutes.
Sound of Guns end on a surprisingly sedate note, with the long, steady, easy-on-the-ears sway of 'Starts With an End.' The rise and fall of Andy's voice is lulling. This isn't a particularly strong Sound of Guns song, but it's sweetly melodic and undemanding, and eases you out of this album of wall-to-wall anthems nicely.
'What Came From Fire' is a big, heartfelt rock album abounding with overwrought, emotionally-charged choruses. Sound of Guns wisely add a few individual quirks to each anthem, successfully avoiding the strange pitfall of being too accessible and too instantly likeable (i.e boring.) This is about as polished as an album can get, without beginning to sound overproduced, plastic and dull. Sound of Guns might just be the band to reaffirm your faith in the stadium-sized rock-ballad.