Watchfire - The Triumph of Death [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)


The Triumph of Death [7 inch] (2008)


Hardcore and metal have intertwined much in the past 25 or so years. Sometimes going from mortal enemies to being virtually indistinguishable, both have existed side by side sharing bands and fans. Any other issues aside, it is indisputable that these two genres have consistently played a role in each other's development and simply would not exist in their current forms without the other.

This brings us to Watchfire, a new-ish band hailing from the Merrimack Valley area of Massachusetts -- a hotbed for heavy bands past and present (Cave In, Shadows Fall, Shipwreck) -- that is attempting their own brand of metal-influenced hardcore. While there are moments in the music that will set the band clearly in the "hardcore" realm of things, with the epic lyrics and crystal-clear production sound, I think Watchfire is secretly much more of a metal band.

Likely, the band is consciously attempting to mix the two styles, but its strengths all lay on the metal side. The music is clearly guitar-driven and all riffs are performed with exact precision. Furthermore, the band hits its stride hardest when it lets off the fast or chugging hardcore clichés and just plays a solid metal riff, like in closer "Terminus." As a listener I find my attention drifting during the hardcore parts, but returning when the band ups the musicianship and follows their metal muse, like in the ripping endings to "Maelstrom" and "Lost." In addition, what do lyrics like "Our world is reborn through hellfire scorned" and "Still beats a bloodless heart" tell you about a band?

While there is some variation in style, Watchfire does suffer from what I like to call "one long song" syndrome: it all sounds good, but it all sounds the same. It could possibly be that all six songs are in the same lowest-note-on-the-guitar key, but there is little up-and-down emotion shown. The band rarely breaks away from the full-band approach and does not stray from its two tempos: medium and medium-fast. When the production is this full and precise, it is overkill on the listener for the music to stay so constant.

While this may seem to be an overtly negative review, it should be noted that both the production and performances of all instruments on this release are noticeably precise and near-flawless. I did enjoy some of this release, I just hope that Watchfire will let their metal roots shine on their next recording.