When a young band gets attention in the music industry nowadays, it is usually for their prodigious guitar skills that tend to include outlandish time signature changes (the Fall of Troy) and insane shredding (Protest the Hero). While many young bands try to separate themselves from genre distinctions by creating a sound that is extremely inventive and has very few derivatives, Forest Fire took the hardcore and ska elements of the music they love and forged a sound that is theirs. Forest Fire has drawn comparisons to Gorilla Biscuits, Minor Threat, and some of their contemporary ska hybrids Against All Authority and the Suicide Machines.
What makes people respect Forest Fire even more than other bands is their D.I.Y. attitude and the way they conduct themselves:
Fact 1: They did their CD in their drummer's basement, bassist's basement, and guitarist's garage with their guitarist mixing and recording them.
Fact 2: Their guitarist and singer did the artwork for their album.
Fact 3: Forest Fire wants to "share the love" (and I quote from the insert): "Thanks for burning your friend a copy of our CD, do it ten more times. Spread the word."
This kind of attitude has lead Forest Fire to get a reputation as a band who will play everywhere in front of anyone, basement, outdoor, and club shows alike.
Now on to the review. The CD starts with a very Bomb the Music Industry!-esque track called "Fuck Synth Bands," which is a short song that is ironically constructed around a synthesizer. The only other time the synthesizer is used on this album is on a clever song called "Pimp Your Ride" that begins with a funny sound clip and roars into a fast and catchy song that is easy to like. The synthesizer is used to produce an almost Aquabats effect, which will no doubt be explored in their future material. Though it is important to include that Forest Fire does not use synthesizers live, this reviewer highly recommends that they should and that it would help to improve their live shows by adding something new and fresh.
I think that it should be mentioned that there are two main vocalists in Forest Fire: Erik is the lead singer who sings on most of the songs, and Chris plays bass and does some vocals on this CD. Erik's vocal stylings are comparable to the delivery of Ian Mackaye paired with the screaming of Jason Navarro of the Suicide Machines. Chris on the other hand sounds like a snottier Ben Weasel and tends to sing on the band's more ska-oriented comedy pop-punk songs. It seems to be that Erik tends to be focused around the more serious songs like "Self Deprecation," which includes:
We have no need to be enemies / You're instigating every bit / Criticize and ostracize / Where do we go with it / What happened to the scene unity you preached / In all of your fucking songs / One scene this ones for us for our friends for all of us / You're a fucking joke!!!!!!!!!!!While Chris sings songs like "Pop Punk:"
This is where we sing about our favorite bands / Blink-182 and Simple Plan, Good Charlotte / They almost can steal our vote for our favorite band!!!Other important songs on this record include "Rice Patty," about local scene celebrity Pat Rice who attends almost every local show of note and whose opinion is cherished above all who come to a show. This song's catchy hardcore sing-along chorus and pairing of Chris's and Erik's vocals make this song fun to see and listen to. Another notable one is "No Friends," which goes to prove that when Erik and Chris are paired on a track that it leads to another catchy chorus. "Suppository Depository" is a short song that epitomizes Forest Fire: fast and fun. "Brandon Hatfield" and "Fast Food Economy" show off guitarist Matt Kursmark's riffing and how he turns the former (a cover of a song that he recorded with more traditional ska band the Pinstripes) into a true Forest Fire song. It probably doesn't need to be mentioned that the drumming is more than solid, as it doesn't really stand out but helps to carry the album throughout without stopping a beat. The drums pound and crash with great intensity and the beat stays steady on the ska songs.
What tarnishes this CD for me is the last 3 songs, which really drag the CD out. Having followed this band for a while I know that these are their three oldest songs ("Pop Punk," "I Love Alaska," and "Diversity Day") and they have distanced themselves stylistically and technically at this point. I know that a band's first songs have a special place in their hearts, but Forest Fire has to drop the baggage and record songs that are up to par with their live performance. I have seen them twice in the past two months and Erik really gets into the harder songs and they seem to play less of the ska songs.
I think that most will agree with me when they say that Forest Fire should stick to the formula that lead to the creation of songs like "Pimp Your Ride," "Rice Patty," "Self Deprecation," and "Suppository Depository." Those songs are getting better and better live and are sweet recorded. Keep up the good work and make Cincinnati proud!!!