Releasing an album that attempts to show many different sides of a band’s musical style can be hazardous to their health. Unless done carefully, it can come off as disjointed and unfocused—trying to hit too many targets—which can result in alienating their fan base.
Awaken The Fire, the second release by Like A Storm not only manages to avoid those pitfalls, it blasts through them in breathtaking fashion via great songwriting and creative production. The New Zealand-based group consists of three brothers: Chris Brooks (lead vocals, guitar and didgeridoo), Matt Brooks (lead guitar, vocals) and Kent Brooks (bass, vocals). All three are also credited with keys/programming.
The first track on the album, Chaos, opens with the distinctive sound of a didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians. Quickly adding heavy riffing metal guitars and screaming/growling vocals, one might think that this is just another ultra-heavy band; albeit with a gimmick. Love The Way You Hate Me is equally heavy, but has an extended break in the song with a didgeridoo solo, slowly adding guitar and drums. The use of the didgeridoo in rock music is unique, but not gimmicky, as it fits well while adding a dramatic feel to the songs.
Wish You Hell starts with scratchy record and AM radio-type sound effects, while Break Free is more of a straightforward, soaring, hopeful melodic rock song about escaping the binds a relationship.
Become The Enemy is perhaps the hardest song on the record, both music and lyric-wise. Crushing riffs are paired with “You’ve become the enemy, but you won’t be the end of me. It’s like you were dead before you were born, you’re my Jesus Christ with devil’s horns, sucking me down in your black hole.”
Perhaps the most unusual song grouping you’ll ever hear on a hard rock album are the trio of a power ballad, a cover of a classic rap song, and a softer ballad.
The first ballad is Southern Skies, a breathtaking masterpiece of a song. Starting with just acoustic guitar and vocals, the tune slowly builds in intensity by adding drums, then electric guitar and bass. The lyrics pay homage to the band’s Kiwi heritage: “Everything I’m looking for, is right back here where I belong, and everything I’d thought I’d lost, I found beneath this Southern Cross.”
Gangster’s Paradise is a crushing reworking of Coolio’s number one hit that is instantly infectious, and will be listened to over and over.
Ordinary is another ballad, but a very different feel than Southern Skies. Consisting of just vocals, acoustic guitar and strings effect, it’s the most passionate, plaintive vocal delivery on the album. “Autumn leaves have faded…another year of my life, passing me by. So long I’ve waited for a taste of the life I thought would be mine…I need to get away, ‘cause I don’t want to waste another day.”
The closing track is Nothing Remains (Nihil Reliquum). Once again throwing a curve, this song has another feature not usually heard in rock music: Spoken word phrases in Latin under driving guitars.
By taking risks and pushing back against typical with the song collection on Awaken The Fire, Like A Storm have not only succeeded, they have excelled–and excelled in spectacular fashion.