You’ve most likely never heard of The Safety Fire before and to be honest I’m not surprised. Since forming in 2006 these guys have managed to release a mere EP and yet believe it or not these guys have had quite a lot of buzz around them in some circles ever since their conception (mostly music forums). Grind The Ocean is the full-length that everyone (including myself) has been waiting to hear since they released their EP entitled Sections back in 2009.
First and foremost, lets get one thing straight: The Safety Fire are not a djent band. It seems like any band that plays an irregular guitar riff or breakdown in a low tuning these days gets lumped into the djent genre, these guys are a progressive metal band. Period, end of sentence. Grind The Ocean is a grooved filled, melodic and weirdly memorable album that has its fair share of technical time signature distorting moments.
While the vocals might not be everyone’s favourite component of this band, I love the vocals and think they are what make The Safety Fire the great band they are, that and the good instrumentation and tight-nit timing between the guitarists and drummer also helps too. The vocals kind of remind me a little bit of djent poster band Periphery, only not as whiny and more melodic. The screams are sort of monotonous, at the same time they’re intriguing and work with the music so well. There’s no disputing the vocal range of vocalist Sean McWeeney with his ability to go from a low scream to an angelic clean high is quite impressive and rare for a vocalist in any metal genre.
As good as The Safety Fire’s instrumentation and vocal components are, the album does have some downsides. One of the biggest issues is that the album feels like one big massive song split into multiple tracks, it’s not that any of the songs on the album are bad it’s the fact that you can barely tell any of the songs apart. The production is a massive let down as well, while I’m not a sound engineer there is something about this album that sounds harsh and unnatural (it might just be in my head), nothing is washed out and you can even hear the bass guitar quite well but the album lacks that certain warmth when you compare it to the production of similar sounding albums.
In my opinion there are only two stand-out tracks on this album; Huge Hammers and Circassian Beauties. These very two tracks are where The Safety Fire sound their most comfortable and diverse. The rest of the album feels like slightly tweaked parts of the two aforementioned songs with random jazzy/bass driven guitar parts thrown in for good measure.
The lead single off of the album, “Huge Hammers” is a weird, twisted track that I’ve been trying to decipher ever since I heard it a few months ago. I have yet to work out what the hell the song is about with lines like; “Stones turn veering into vision” and “Delirium scribbles thoughts onto page” – by the sounds of it, it’s either the ramblings of a psychotic killer who thinks he’s a crow or it’s simply a play on words in reference to a “a murder of crows”, a murderous crow.
The Safety Fire have created a somewhat flawed album that doesn’t live up to the buzz. Grind The Ocean is a great record that proves the guys have what it takes to release something diverse and interesting. It’ll be interesting to hear what these guys release next.
Rating: 7 out of 10