Gladiators Eat Fire - Gladiators Eat Fire (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Gladiators Eat Fire

Gladiators Eat Fire (2011)


Seattle's Gladiators Eat Fire sound like a lot of bands. Not in a derivative way, though. Rather, their self-titled album pulls in plenty of influences into a post-hardcore nexus. At times they match the technicality of Dillinger Escape Plan; at others they mirror Refused's passion. Other moments still recall a more intricate, late-period Crime in Stereo, and every so often they pull off the Church's brand of ambient psychedelia simply because they can. Hell, sometimes Gladiators Eat Fire sounds like two records playing at once.

The truth is that, while the record could probably most easily be called "technical hardcore," it incorporates enough elements from other styles that it could either repulse strident fans of the genre or act as a gateway to other sounds. "This Shit Is Christmas" starts off as a blistering rocker, but by the end it hits a quieter, experimental stride. Things get psychedelic on a whim or, in the case of "Kid, I'm Johnny Appleseed", an acid-drenched dancepocalypse.

Gladiators Eat Fire never commit to one sound, which keeps their songs fresh despite some lengthy running times. But the record never comes off as self-indulgent, even though I imagine this review reads like a Mars Volta article. Granted, GEF sometimes overplays an idea, but never to the point of exhaustion. Even things that seem dull serve a purpose. "Appleseed" could be two minutes shorter, but the protracted ending segues perfectly into the whistled intro of "Arcane Silva". These are fairly anti-commercial songs, but they're not alienating either. If nothing else, they advertise what I imagine to be an insane, unique live show.