These last few weeks, I’ve been hearing so much about Comeback Kid’s Wake The Dead and Paint It Black’s Paradise. Kids on the internet, and even my friends, were raving about how raw, intense, and powerful these two new records were. So, I went out and got both. I’ve enjoyed them, each calling on different types of punk/hardcore, and both delivering quite a bit of intensity. Still, when I listen to these records, there is something left to be desired. To me, they are too straightforward, and dance around the possibilities to create something truly amazing. Listening to these records only makes me yearn for something more and only one record, as of late, can fill that void.
Fiya’s Make Joy, Make Strength is the most refreshing record I’ve heard in a long time. This punk/hardcore band hailing from Gainesville, Florida, create a good blend of fast, intelligent, urgent hardcore that seems to be missing from the scene today. Taking the intensity of bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, mixing that with the well-thought out structures of Strikeforce Diablo, and the intelligent lyrics of Dillinger Four (minus the tongue-in-cheek humor), they create an exciting collection of songs that are very inspiring.
The first song I heard by Fiya was “Me Or The City.” When it first came on, I thought it was decent, reminding me of local boys New Mexican Disaster Squad. It wasn’t until the second half of the song that it truly grabbed my attention, and made my jaw drop to the ground. It went from a simplistic punk verse to a melodic chord arrangement, while still keeping its fast, raw feeling.
The variation between tracks is a standout part of the record. For example, while songs like “Me Or The City” and “95% Chance Of Full Recovery” dive right into the rock, others like “National Anthem/II” steadily build before it blows up, and “Make Joy, Make Strength” is just a single distorted guitar and vocals. One of my favorite parts about this band are the vocals. The lead singer has a very powerful voice, but fragile at the same time. You can really sense the urgency in what he is saying.
Not only is the song variation done well, but they have a great sense of pacing. To quote my friend Ryan, “what I like is that some of their songs are short, but to the point. They don't linger around for four minutes when they can sum it up and get their point across in a straightforward and direct manner; no big production or elaborate structures, just a straightforward rockin’ good time.” Well put.
At times, it may seem like I’m contradicting myself, saying they are complex structured songs but are also straightforward. I see this as a good thing, because it brings variety and keeps your interest. But I don’t want to overanalyze this record, because I think that would take away from my enjoyment. So, let me try and sum it up for you. Overall, it’s filled with fast, raw, heartfelt songs about life, religion, government, society, and our involvement in all of them. But I don’t want to mislead you in thinking that this is like the new Paint It Black or records in the same vein. In my opinion, this is a much more thought out record that takes a more mature look at punk/hardcore music, and isn’t afraid to play with tempo changes and interesting guitar riffs. I wrote this review not because I’m a good writer, but because I feel more people need to hear and listen to Fiya. Make Joy, Make Strength is just as powerful and angry as any classic hardcore album out today, but it is Fiya’s ability to step beyond those boundaries that truly makes them an amazing band.