REVIEW BY JOEL INGLIS
Fire Valley Fire
Bring an Army
Fire Valley Fire is the kind of band that you want to sing along with. Catchy tunes, anthemic choruses, and a super evident passion for the content makes this album one that you’ll want to listen to with a goal of understanding the content while at the same time wanting to sing along.
Bring an Army starts off with an rock anthem call to arms called “Megaphone.” Although a solid track, I would have chosen to start the album with something that gives a better taste of Fire Valley Fire’s technical prowess, lyrical capabilities, and ability to produce catchy-as-all-hell rock songs. This would have certainly worked if the second song on the album were first. The second track, “It’s Alright,” is a truly great track that makes you want to join in on the chorus in a dark room full of fans.
There was one jarring transition on the album that caught me off guard on my first listen. Between the third track, “Wizard,” (a power ballad with rippin’ guitar solos, vocals that have an AC/DC quality, and powerful driving drums and bass) and the fourth track, “Use Your Brain,” (a song that would fit in a modern Grease-like musical about chess nerds) there is a major tonal shift.
This is the first album review that I’ve done that the band knew I was doing before I wrote it. With that in mind, Justin Vallis sent me some notes on the lyrics before I gave the album a listen. I wouldn’t say that I know Justin well, but I would say that I know him well enough that he’s a passionate artist, his own biggest critic, and the type of lyricist that lays his cards down at the first chance he gets. After having read the explanation of “Alone,” which involved the way Justin viewed his relationship with and thoughts towards Jay Smith, it was difficult to hold back a couple tears while listening to the song. The song is straight-up powerful and masterfully crafted. The heart and soul behind it brings this track whole other level of sincerity.
The technical prowess of this band is exemplified in the title track. “Bring An Army” is pure rock magic with some of the most beautiful guitar work that punches at just the right moments, punctuating beautifully paced vocal swells.
“Circle Like A Vulture” is a song that demands to be danced to, despite the serious and sorrowful content. That sentence might sum up this album. The energy levels are cranked to full from the beginning of the first track to the last note of the well chosen album finisher, “Setting Sun.” There isn’t a missed note or an oddly placed word. This is a masterclass in album-crafting. The songs deal with difficult subjects lyrically and the musicianship is fully capable of evoking sincere emotion.
Tracks I liked: It’s Alright, Alone, Circle Like A Vulture
Tracks I didn’t like: Megaphone (Though I didn’t actually dislike this song. I more so thought it was a weak way to start an album with such great songs.)
Tracks I want to keep in mind if I ever get to score a movie: Use Your Brain (for a movie about pre-teens doing their best to make it in the world of competitive chess. The scene would probably be a montage of the early stages of regionals)