Spirits Of Fire - Spirits of Fire

Spirits Of Fire cover
Spirits Of Fire
Spirits of Fire
Frontiers Music Srl
2019
4.5
Spirits Of Fire are indeed an all-star project, bringing together well-known vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, many more) with his band made from CWOTD, Steve DiGiorgio on bass (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Testament, ex-Control Denied, Death DTA [live], ex-Sadus, ex-Sebastian Bach, many more) and Chris Caffery on guitars (Solo, TSO, John West, ex-Doctor Butcher, ex-Savatage, + more incl Ripper’s solo band) a man that just like everybody else from the rotting carcass of the once great band that Savatage was relies on playing the carols with TSO to make a comfortable living and releases pretty vapid solo albums that consistently fail, just to please his artistic side/ego and Mark Zonder on drums (Warlord, ex-Fates Warning, ex-Graham Bonnet Band, many more) an excellent performer, but also gun for hire that has repeatedly taken part in dubious projects just for the paycheck.
 
What do all these people have in common? None of them has produced a “good” album on their own… none of them has come up with a catchy song… outside the bands they made their name in. This fact is the bane of this album which becomes evident instantly as on opener “Light Speed Marching”, begins. Its unoriginal as hell; Caffery uses a variant of the “Jesus Saves” riff from Savatage and the vocal ideas that Ripper uses seem lifted from “Bullet Train” and “Burn in Hell” both tracks from his Judas Priest days. The solo is fluid af, but it’s mechanical and it doesn’t add up to much in the grand scheme of things.
 
And do things go south from here... Caffery either recycles or produces sub-par Savatage riffs that would probably not even be deemed worthy even for his own work, leaving Ripper to try and impress the listener… “Temple of the Soul” has a half nice idea for its chorus and even some nice soloing by Caffery, but it’s otherwise forgettable. Ripper struggles in it and the guitars are mixed above him for some mysterious reason… in cheaper systems, the panning the song relies on, sounds awful and imperceptible and even when you listen to this back on expensive speakers it still, feels cheap.
 
“All Comes Together” has a riff that is either recycled or borrowed; Caffery solos some and then borrows a part from some traditional tune. The bouillabaisse of ideas is not terrible, but original? No! With more songs being around five minutes long … a feeling of repetition doesn’t take long to set in.
 
“Spirits of Fire”, the eponymous track, feels like a leftover from Ripper’s uneventful solo efforts, but with Savatage undertones, instead of Pantera ones. Nothing to write home about.
 
“It’s Everywhere” could have been a ballad, but it has guitar constantly blurting out… its a by the numbers modern melodic track that goes around in circles, chasing its tail, after its initial charm  wears off.
 
“A Game” is actually what its predecessor should have been, but takes too long “to happen” and after that it veers into an anticlimactic mess; Roy Z might have mixed this, but obviously the performances were already “phoned in” and it’s unlikely that he had a say in how all of this was going to sound. Another good solo ensues, but it can’t save the song from being a right mess.
 
“Stand and Fight” is the closest thing to a straight forward metal track, up to this point, but it’s not some sort of revelation either. It’s nice but derivative riffs can’t make up for the rest of it being average at best. We’ve heard this before, done much better.
 
“Meet Your End” has this weird sounding riff, over which Ripper spits words one by one in something that sounds like a bad Pantera copy, but with an odd guitar tone. The band tries to experiment  but there’s no release, no great chorus… the solo mimics the rhythm mockingly before it unfurls and it’s quite OK, but cannot single handedly keep this song from being very average.
 
“Never to Return” has an odd 90s inspired intro and is the closest thing that one could imagine to Savatage in their heyday on the album, but… not quite. It tries to mimic the lyricism that Oliva was able to infuse songs with, but only scratches the surface of what could be.
 
“The Path” is another song that sounds like Savatage leftovers, over which Ripper first laments and then laughs, before tucking some guttural noises towards the end. (It’s not unlikely what JO came up with on that “Oliva” album). The seven minute duration and adventurous “build” in its middle are very “Oliva” like…but it’s nowhere as good as it should be to even be mentioned along any Savatage songs.
 
“Alone in the Darkness” is the third in a row, moody song, with some faked-crescendo. It offers some gratification and some elation, but ultimately feels like a faked orgasm. And that’s a terrible way to close an album as it leaves the listener spent, but  yet unfulfilled.
 
An acoustic version of “It’s Everywhere” is offered as a Japanese bonus and it’s largely what this song should have been originally. (Just not THAT spartan.)
 
Talent alone doesn’t equate to “genius” and this album should be a cautionary tale to that effect. Many no name musicians have released far superior albums to this, in the last decade, with little to no fanfare. This is unoriginal scrap “metal”, destined for the bargain bin, despite the nice solos and the occasional good Ripper moments it has.