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Released: 2012, Unsigned
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
London authority-bashers 44 Fires make no secret of their anger. The unsigned quartet have unmistakably pummelled their political leanings into this eponymous EP, and although it seems to have fared pretty critically well since its release in April 2012, I'm in two minds.
On the one hand, there are some sterling influences: Corrosion of Conformity and Soundgarden abound within, particularly in highlight tracks 'Death Trap' and 'Propaganda', where Cornell homages reverberate through Brian Small's grated screams, and sloppy, tumbling grooves jump on a sandpaper skateboard and go steaming down the Pentatonic Freeway. There's also some early Clutch and Pearl Jam wrestling Britpop and punkier shades; the whole thing is sopping with energy and vibrancy, and on a first spin, you can't ask for any more than a record that shoves its knuckledusters down your cochleas and forces you to pay attention to what it has to say.
Having said that, I prefer its bluesier and alternative moments to its thrashier ones. First number 'Corporate Lies' and mid-pointer 'Death Track' are pretty flimsy and forgettable; I'm surprised that the band have chosen to open with the former, since the chunky sludge of 'Wake' or 'Hate Me' would have grabbed interest far sooner. It's a tricky feat for anyone to get away with bleating the words 'Corporate Lies' over and over in a song without you starting to visualise a 5-foot pubescent kicking the wall with his size sixes, getting irate about his parents not letting him have a TV in his bedroom. Do 44 Fires succeed in this? No, but they're definitely onto a good thing with the grungier 90s threads, where there's likely to be an audience response to their bureaucratic rantings of far more integrity than they'd receive via the glossy mould of kiddy-gripping pop-punk.
Let's face it: they're not Rage Against The Machine the Second, and, sadly for their namesake, the EP doesn't set the world alight. But it could definitely be left playing at a raucous party without being tampered with, and would serve an appropriate soundtrack to whatever whiskey-fuelled mayhem might ensue. Worth a listen.
Review by Rhiannon Marley
1. Corporate Lies
3. Death Trap
5. Hate Me
Brian Small – Vocals
Jay Franklin – Guitar
Tony Hampton – Bass
Aaron Beard – Drums