The Fire Still Burns - Keeping Hope Alive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Fire Still Burns

Keeping Hope Alive (2005)


The Fire Still Burns are a very aptly named five-piece. Featuring former and current members of such well-known acts as Lifetime and Ensign, this is a band who's got a very firm grasp on how to write some fist pump-inspiring punk rock music.

This six-song EP is an excellent representation of all five members' abilities to work in a cohesive fashion to achieve the best results. It's gritty punk rock with enough underlying melody to keep the sound interesting no matter what the course. It's not a new formula, but it's one they're able to get the maximum out of.

Wasting no time to put their best foot forward, "Insert Motivation Here" is a bouncy track sure to incite sing-alongs with whoever may be listening. Complete with some melodic guitar undercurrents and passionately sung and shouted vocals, in just two minutes it sets the tone for what's going to be a great EP, and the next track only expands on that. "Good as New" takes on a more aggressive, more angry sound, with pounding drum fills and some raging chord progressions, but at its core the song is still as catchy and infectious as anything else to be found on the record. It slows a bit in the middle, but the same intensity is just as prevalent as before. Vocalist Alf Bartone has clear command of each and every song, and it's clear that's much more a pleasure than a burden to him.

As good as Bartone sounds, the backup vocals accent him and his conviction to an absolute 'T,' and the instrumentation never lacks. The intro to "November Days" sets a perfect and ominous stage for the rest of the song, which quickly bursts into action around the one-minute mark. The contrast of clean and distorted guitars is one that works well for the band, even if a few of the last songs do slack a bit when compared to the first 3 or 4.

A great effort from a band with a most impressive of pedigrees, and hopefully this is a fire we'll all be seeing and hearing a lot more of.