Reviewed: October 2019
Released: 2019, Dr. Music Records
Reviewer: Lee Carter
“… unique sound that sets [ARTIST] apart from the hundreds of other [GENRE]”. Sound familiar? Any interview or PR statement for a new single or album, etc., usually has something similar accompanying by way of an attempt at marketing. How does it work for you? Are you sucked in by it all? Appropriate then that FOUR TRIPS AHEAD’s new album, “…And The Fire Within” is all to do with “ the struggle for identity, self-reliance and self-confidence in the midst of chaos and conflict”. So how does it fare in this crazy world?
If anyone could debate what the titular “fire within” is on the album, then the biggest candidate for the role would easily be the band’s choruses. Straight from the off with “Step Into My World”, you’re presented with a large, sing-along chorus that showcases the unprecedented powerhouse vocals of band leader Peter Wilson. It’s truly the stuff to get you going, though if the album’s curtain-raiser is big and powerful, then the likes of “Sea Song” and “The Descent” take the prize as they are positively gargantuan. A live setting just begs for these.
It’s not all big choruses, though, with “There’s A Time” incorporating a snarky, punk-like attitude and twisty riffing, whilst “Run To You” slows matters down to check off the token “ballad” on any hard rock album. Pleasingly, the record has enough variety throughout it to ensure a dependable level of quality, as well as something for everyone. So, we’ve had big choruses, a bit of punk (of which “Bring Me Down” must be included to aggressively round out the album) and a syrupy number that brings proceedings down a little, but one aspect is left unmentioned: the solos.
Tasteful application of lead passages is a genuine delight and hallmark of considered songwriting, so props must be given to FOUR TRIPS AHEAD for their approach here. A prime case is in “Good Times Goodbye”, where a sudden sweep-picked flourish emerges from nowhere and leaves one a little confused and ever so slightly stimulated by it. Unlike a number of their peers, the solos do not seem to be there for tokenism, but for actual expression, as in “Let It Out (Inside)”. It would be worth other bands considering such a view when they write.
While it certainly rocks hard enough and has plenty on offer for rock fans, “…And The Fire Within” will feel a touch familiar in a few places. However, this isn’t too much to its detriment. The musicianship and craft on display is second to none, and carries a quality that this was made by musicians with something to say, rather than a contractual obligation to fulfil. It won’t blow the doors off with originality, nor does it immediately scream “best album evarrr”, but FOUR TRIPS AHEAD bring plenty of fun and raucous riffs to get your groove on to.
Plug in, crank the dial and bang your head like you have an aversion to functioning neck muscles.