|Musical Style: Melodic Rock||Produced By: Line Of Fire & James King|
|Record Label: Tribunal||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 43:13|
Anyone reading this who happens to be a child of the eighties is most certainly going to be aware of the decades musical environment, an era dominated by huge, layered choruses, guitar solos galore and hooks, hooks and more hooks. Just turn on the radio and you were more than likely to find the airwaves under the control of Journey, Boston, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Europe and a host of others. North Carolina’s Line Of Fire, with its radio friendly eighties influenced sound that cannot help but invite a comparison to those previously mentioned bands, proves a throwback to the decade in question on its 2005 self-titled debut. A compelling combination of catchy melodic rock and commercial based hard rock, Line Of Fire showcases ten quality tracks characterized by memorable, hook-driven choruses, soaring lead vocals and a bountiful amount of showy lead guitar work.
Line Of Fire actually got its start in 2003 when vocalist Shawn Pelata, who previously fronted the Christian metal band Oracle in addition to making guest vocal appearances on the last two releases by the underground metal core group Killwhitneydead, contributed the vocal tracks to some session work that guitarist Ed Darst was doing at the time. The two soon formed a friendship and, as a result of finding they shared similar musical tastes, decided to begin work on a project moving in a melodic rock based musical direction. After Pelata recruited his friend guitarist Nikki Dimage to round out the bands line up, the three immediately began work on the material encompassing Line Of Fire’s self-titled debut. The name Line Of Fire was inspired by the Journey song of the same name.
Pelata proves a more than above average talent who contributes a high-pitched vocal style that brings to mind Lance King (Pyramaze, Avian) but with a slight touch of grit and gravel to his delivery. It is really good to hear Pelata involved in another project- this guy has too much talent to be sitting on the sidelines. Guitarists Ed Darst and Nikki Dimage deliver the goods as well, furnishing just the right amount of rhythm and acoustic guitar in addition to trading off on lead guitar. Darst and Dimage help contribute the albums bass lines along with Cliff Paul, while Justin Collins fills in on drums.
While production values are quite solid and far from sounding thin and muddy, I feel the project would have benefited from just a touch of big budget polish. Compare the sonics here to those on AdrianGale’s – another band with a sound that is a throwback to the eighties – 2004 release Crunch and you find a slight but noticeable difference.
The albums packaging, at the same time, could have been improved upon. The album artwork, featuring the bands logo with flames in the background, is on the plain side while no band photos were included either.
Pelata, who penned the lyrics to six of the albums tracks, makes his faith best known on the energetic “Faith In Fire”, the catchy “Salvation’s Edge” and “Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)”- an anthem if there ever was one. Otherwise, the lyrics here focus on life and relationships in a positive manner (sort of like AdrianGale).
“Faith In Fire” slowly fades in before the rhythm guitar takes over and carries things forward at a more upbeat tempo. Briefly pausing for its pre-chorus, the song culminates for a high energy chorus that is guaranteed to pull you in and refuse to let go. As its title implies, “Faith In Fire” talks about persevering in the face of adversity:
When all you find is sorrow
In everything you see
The still small voice is calling
All you gotta do is believe
You’ve got to find that light inside your heart
And right from the start – you gotta have…
Faith in fire – Courage in the face of pain
Faith in fire – Everlasting faith remains
The pace slows down a bit with “Live & Let Go”. The crisp rhythm guitar opening the song plays a reduced role in the mix upon reaching its first verse. Once “Live & Let Go” reaches its catchy chorus, however, the rhythm guitar returns with just the right amount of edge. Dealing with the past is the subject matter to “Live & Let Go”:
You’ve got a fire inside
Now is the time to let it show
You can’t have back yesterday
Now is the time to live and let go
After “Face” begins quietly to a touch of acoustic guitar, a crunchy rhythm guitar interweaves with the acoustic guitar and helps lead the way to a brief but catchy hook filled chorus. Several seconds of biting lead guitar aligns itself with the songs emotional feel. “Fade” focuses on trying to reconnect with a long lost friend:
I hope you can forgive me
The memory’s growing thin
Trying to re-connect
All the severed ties
“Paradise” advances through its first verse with the rhythm guitar fading in and out of the mix. Picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar establishes itself in hard rocking fashion, “Paradise” moves on to a melodic based chorus perfectly accentuated by vocal harmonies.
The acoustic guitar at the start of “Remind Me” is soon joined by the rhythm guitar, the two pushing the song ahead until it attains a good acoustic laced chorus.
“Morning Light” gets underway as vocal harmonies transition to an edgy rhythm guitar, an up-tempo atmosphere maintained as the song moves through its first verse. The vocal harmonies at the start of the song return to help shore up a radio friendly chorus that cannot help but force you to sing along.
The ballad “Can’t You See” gives prominence to a very fine melody as it is carried its distance by an acoustic guitar. A touch of rhythm guitar enters the mix in time to buttress a fleeting but well timed instrumental section.
The album hits its peak with the stunning “Salvation’s Edge”. Set in motion by a drum solo, the song advances through its first verse in acoustic laced fashion until the rhythm guitar kicks in just in time to drive an emotionally charged chorus with a huge catchy hook. This one definitely ranks with the albums better tracks. I find the message to “Salvation’s Edge” to be nothing less than uplifting:
It’s a long way down
And I’m afraid to fall
But I’ve done all I can do to make sense of it all
I feel the wind in my hair
And the sun on my face
I think about how far I’ve come
But how far behind I am in the race
“Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)” opens quietly before a hard rocking rhythm guitar takes over. Slowing upon reaching its first verse as Pelata adds an element of grit to his vocal delivery, momentum is gained as the song transitions to an anthem-like chorus driven by an abundance of the bands trademark energy. “Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)” is aptly named:
I’m having none of this religion
It all seems so contrived
And the people of the steeple
Seemed content to hide their eyes
Yeah, I’ve got my share of questions
Hanging heavy on my mind
And if I can’t answer these
How will they know You’re alive
As I walk through this valley of death
Help me fear no evil…
The blend of piano and keyboards introducing “Time To Say Goodbye” slowly leads the way through its first verse. After the pace picks up as the rhythm guitar makes its presence felt, it drives the song forward until it attains a chorus giving rise to just the right amount of commercial radio friendly appeal.
The best way to sum up would be to say that Line Of Fire proves a consistent listen from front to back. While energetic hard rockers such as “Faith In Fire” and “Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)” come to mind when considering the albums stronger material, the catchy hooks of “Live And Let Go”, “Fade” and “Salvation’s Edge” allow them to hold up equally well. In the end, Line Of Fire proves a very notable release that comes highly recommended for any fan of eighties influenced melodic hard rock.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Faith In Fire” (4:28), “Live & Let Go” (4:24), “Fade” (4:35), “Paradise” (4:57), “Remind Me” (4:04), “Morning Light” (4:07), “Can’t You See” (3:38), “Salvation’s Edge” (4:17), “Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)” (4:59), “Time To Say Goodbye” (3:40)
Shawn Pelata – Lead Vocals & Keyboards
Ed Darst – Guitars & Bass
Nikki Dimage – Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Cliff Paul – Bass
Justin Collins - Drums