It’s time at the Mill to look back a couple of years and Finnish hard rockers Brother Firetribe’s debut album “False Metal.” The whole band actually started a as a bit of humorous side project for guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and vocalist Pekka Heino. The name originated from a Finnish tennis player Veli Paloheimo and title “False Metal” of course refers to their music style, based on AOR (Adult Oriented Rock) that ruled the world 20-30 years ago. It is nowadays sometimes ridiculed by bands like Manowar. However, in this context it is definitely Brother Firetribe who is having the last laugh as “False Metal” kicks all over Manowar’s recent efforts.
Many associate AOR to 1980’s glam rock era but in truth it originated from a much earlier time period, late 1970’s and from bands such as Journey, Foreigner, Boston and REO Speedwagon who all released excellent albums throughout those years. The genre of course reached its zenith in early to mid-1980’s when all the bands above joined with few new hopefuls where filling stadiums all across the world – but always mostly in America. The sound of AOR – with few exceptions, like UK’s Shy – didn’t have a huge breakthrough in the old world. Thus it is even more amazing a band from Finland in 2006 was able to create such ear pleasing AOR-record.
Although you have to bear in mind, they did not achieve this out of the blue as there is some genuine talent involvced herein. Emppu Vuorinen of course does most of his day work in probably Finland’s top selling metal act at the moment, Nightwish. They have a new very successful album “Dark Passion Play” out and Steel Mill’s Kassu has taken an in-depth look at that one elsewhere.
As for Pekka Heino, whose main band Leverage just recently released their second album on Frontiers Records are slowly and steadily getting their own well earned recognition. So within main player’s very busy schedules it is commendable they are able to have a band as tight and productive as Brother Firetribe for side project.
But let’s get down to music. Opening track “Break Out” reminds me of Foreigner in their prime, sound picture is excellent with guitars playing a simple but effective hook line on top and keyboards supporting the musical palette with tasteful melodies. Heino sings “Breakout, Keep the Fire Burning!” and you instantly know what the album is about: Having a good time.
First slower number “Love Goes Down” begins softly but rises to another brilliant chorus, yes it does sound like the 1980’s but done in such professional and convincing way, the feeling is pure joy. The keyboard solo in the middle is particularly impressive.
Definite highlight “Midnite Queen” follows being more up-tempo and again keyboards by Tomppa Nikulainen sound excellent all the way. And another classic lyric slotted in: “It’s All In The Name Of Rock’n’Roll” – great stuff…
This album is perfect “car music” as I’d put it, to have it blasting away from your stereos while driving along the highway. Preferably in the summer of course, when you can roll down the window and feel the wind in your face. Certain albums are just perfect for that situation, Judas Priest’s “Turbo” for example and “False Metal” fits into that category well.
Many times throughout the album Heino’s vocals come to close to Foreigner legend Lou Gramm, and this is a high compliment. Just listen to closing track “Kill City Kid” and its more than resembling sounds. Every song boasts a catchy chorus and a hook line guaranteed to remain in your head for days. In fact one has to wait until song number eight, “Lover Tonite” before the pace even slightly lets go. And that song is followed by “Spanish Eyes” that boasts simply awesome chorus, a powerhouse AOR ballad in the best possible style. Piano, organs and strings build the song up nicely, 20 years ago this probably would have scored high in the charts but of course climate has changed considerably since then. Production is very good in both faster and slower tunes, enhancing the vocals but not going overboard. If Def Leppard had only recorded “Hysteria” at the E-Major Studios we wouldn’t have had to wait 5 years for it…
There are certainly elements of Leverage heard within the record’s grooves but overall the sound is more massive and more rooted to classic melodic era. As I think it should. The album gives a strong nostalgic feeling but yet it is not a sound of a band completely stuck in the past, they have their own distinctive stamp printed into the music. And what’s even better, they have already recorded a follow-up “Heart Full Of Fire” to be released in the spring!
Almost no one is recording exactly this kind of music today, and most definitely no one is doing it as good as this band. From their idols, only Journey remain active recording new stuff (well, two studio efforts in 10 years is not a particularly busy schedule) but their latest albums have not exactly set the world on fire either. As the classic sounding metal has been making a new resurrection of sorts lately there certainly seems to be a demand for this kind of melodic good quality hard rock as well. Whether Brother Firetribe has the connections or willingness to promote themselves hard enough to make a break through is another issue. As both Emppu Vuorinen and Pekka Heino have another groups who arguably are making bigger waves at the moment, that might just have to wait for a little longer. Hopefully upcoming second album and possible live shows to support it make the difference.
If it ever happens there ain’t a band around, who’d deserve it more. “False Metal” has never sounded this good. Thumbs up!
1. Break Out
3. I’m On Fire
4. Love Goes Down
5. Devil’s Daughter
6. Midnite Queen
7. One Single Breath
8. Lover Tonite
9. Spanish Eyes
10. Kill City Kid