WHAT SCENE? Band Review: Before Fire

Before Fire Promo Shot

I’ve been playing and spectating and promoting in the Honolulu scene for a couple years now, and there are only a few bands that come to my mind when someone uses words like ‘brutal’ or ‘metal.’ Foremost among those bands is Before Fire.

Before Fire’s music is HEAVY. Heavy, and LOUD. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to jump in a pit and just fuck somebody up or knock over expensive PA gear. But despite the loudness of their music, underneath lies a bed of prog rock, almost math metal. Instead of some of the same tired old chorus/verse/chorus/verse/bridge song structures you see in most of the publicly lauded bands out there, their music comes off as a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. I generally don’t know what that story is, because the growls of their vocalist are so beefy that I can’t say as I have ever understood a single word he has ever said – but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyability of their performance.

Before Fire On StageThere is one downside to having the pseudo complicated music – Before Fire has gone through a half dozen members since the first time I saw them play some time ago. Their vocalist has changed (the first vocalist they had became the singer for a hardcore band, then subbed for another metal act) to their current vox, their lead guitarist left to go to college, causing their bassist to have to move to guitar, they’ve gone through a few rhythm guitarists (also playing sans second guitar), and their bass was replaced with a four-banger when taken over by the new bassist. There have been temp drummers here and again, also. With all this change in the lineup, it always seems as though someone is having to learn or relearn something, and their syncopation can be off during a performance. While the vocalist tends to run away with the show anyhow, if your attention wanders to the other members, you can often glimpse their few downsides.

It helps when a band has members who are real people, not suffering from the ‘rock star’ attitude disorder, and these guys are quite possibly the most approachable metal band I have ever come across. Each of the members are friendly and are generally willing to talk with you after a set. Their vocalist is a player in the local promotions, and is one of the funniest guys I know – if you like submarine humor. Their lead guitarist (former bassist) and their bassist have been together since birth, and if anybody is going to come off as the antisocial one, it’d be the drummer. But then again, drummers are weird anyhow, so it’s not a big deal.

Before Fire Crowd Shot

Every time I see these guys play, it seems like they’ve gotten just a smidge better than they were last time. Of course, the skill of the guitarist improves as time goes on – remember, he was a bassist before he was a guitarist. The low end seems to be a little stronger each time, and all members seem to add just a little more energy and excitement than they did the last time. This always translates well to the crowd, which is almost always the easiest way to tell whether a band is putting it all out there or not. On a good night, with the crowd really showing up in force, you can be sure that there is a mosh breaking faces somewhere in the crowd when Before Fire plays.

Before Fire currently consists of five members:

LowellLowell – Vocals: Lowell is a damned BEAST. He’s got a powerful voice that makes me think of a bear who’d gargled with porcupine piss and swallowed sandpaper before bellowing out his nightly lyrical blasts. And he has a cool beard. Of all the indy metals acts I’ve seen and played with, Lowell has some of the most expressive body language and energy among comparable vocalists. His stage presence is enormous.

It’s important to note that if you’re easily offended or even remotely homophobic, you should consider not listening to a word this guy says either on or off stage. If you are and do… well, you’ll have a shitty night.

In fact, I have only ever seen one vocalist with a better grasp of Death Metal vocals than him, as evidenced HERE.


TravisTravis – Lead Guitar: The first thing to say about Travis is this – he has good hair. His guitar playing isn’t flawless, yet, but it improves with every performance. His stage presence is improving also, whereas once he was merely a statue with a guitar, now he’s a wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man with a guitar.


Sam – Rhythm Guitar: Not even sure if this guy’s still in the band. Saw him play with them once, then not again. Not a lot to say about this guy, except that he has an unhealthy obsession with Alexi Laiho.


Katelyn – Bass: Only thing to say about her is this: Katelyn is the sexiest bassist alive, and one of the sweetest chicks on the planet. And don’t let her try to fool you with the date on her drivers license, she’s only like 12 years old.


Erik – Drums: I don’t really say much about drummers. He hits shit with a stick.


Skullies

8/10

SHORT VERDICT:

GENRE – Death Metal
LABEL – None
TERRITORY – Honolulu, HI
WEBSITE: http://www.myspace.com/beforefireofficial

Before fire is a good act with a few obstacles to overcome before becoming great. Eight skullies out of ten.

Skully

—Individual member photos borrowed from Before Fire’s Myspace profile.

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~ by whatscene on January 26, 2010.

One Response to “WHAT SCENE? Band Review: Before Fire”

  1. Good points!

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