REVIEW: Fire from the Gods – ‘Narrative Retold’

Posted: June 15, 2017 by Jeffrey Maki in Reviews
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Review by Jeff Maki
“Nu-metal” became a dirty word years ago. After massive popularity in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the subgenre became over-saturated and all but ended. Well, flash forward to 2017, and it’s seeing a resurgence with bands like Sylar, From Ashes to New and Cane Hill, along with veterans like Papa Roach, Slipknot and Korn still immensely popular. The reason? Nu-metal doesn’t necessarily mean “rap metal.” What it represents is bands with widely diversified styles.

So why am I defending the most hated subgenre of metal? I’m setting the stage for the next great nu-metal band: Fire from the Gods. Narrative Retold is the deluxe version of Fire from the Gods’ Narrative album, released Aug. 26, 2016. The re-release features two new songs, “The Voiceless” and “The Taste,” guest produced by Korn’s Jonathan Davis. You can’t get much more nu-metal than that. 

Vocalist AJ Channer leads the band—Jameson Teat (guitar), Drew Walker (guitar), Bonner Baker (bass), and Richard Wicander (drums)—through a Sevendust/Skindred-hybrid, complete with reggae and hardcore influences and down-tuned guitars. The choruses are similar to Sevendust’s, as Channer sounds like he could be related to Lajon Witherspoon, especially on songs like the radio-ready “The Taste” and “Composition.” Channer, who was born to a single mother in the Bronx of Jamaican descent, has lived on the east and west coasts, and even in Ghana as a child. He brings this ethnic diversity to the band.

Speaking of radio-ready, the first two songs I heard from Fire from the Gods were on SiriusXM Octane: “Excuse Me,” which has a standout reggae dancehall break in the middle of the song (“Excuse me, Mr. Officer …”), and the hardcore-style “The Voiceless.” As great as “Excuse Me” is, this one was more up my alley with the shouts of “World keeps spinning! World keeps spinning!” after each verse. “Excuse Me” was the No. 1 most played song on Octane for three weeks in a row.

In the tradition of nu-metal, the album’s lyrics and tone are personal for Channer. I found them uplifting with positive vibes—no violence here. He said this about Narrative Retold:

“I want people to feel empowered when they listen to this record, come out of the experience knowing somebody thinks like you. You’re not alone.”

In another tradition, there are no guitar solos to be found here. This is all rhythm-based, yet like other good nu-metal albums, I didn’t notice.

So is Narrative Retold the album to bring back a full-on nu-metal resurgence? Time will tell. But I don’t think that is Fire from the Gods’ intention. I think this is a band that is experimenting and playing the music they love and have been influenced by. They’re trying to create something special. It’s working: They’ve got Jon Davis in their corner and the band this year played Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion and Welcome to Rockville. I think this is only the start for Fire from the Gods.

(Rise Records, May 19, 2017)

Rating: 8/10

Jeff enjoys satanic death metal and may still be banned from Canada.

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