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My first encounter with unsigned, Nottingham-based three-piece Firebomb was at a gig in a small rock venue in neighbouring city Lincoln. I've always been a great believer that a band should never be fully judged until experienced live as, so often, the safety net of studio comforts doesn't always translate so well in a band's performance on the stage. That night, Firebomb delivered a set of high-energy, groove-infused rock/metal that elevated them way above the glut of so many other unsigned bands out there plying their trade within the confines of small, sweaty clubs. So much so that I was immediately intrigued as to how they fare in the recorded format so offered to review their forthcoming album... and here it is. A few dips in quality aside this is, overall, an album that's bursting with energy, infectious hooks, and resonant rock/metal grooves.

With a sound unashamedly pastiched from the 70s/80s heyday of rock/metal's hegemony, Firebomb are most certainly lacking in originality for the most part. Riffage, song structures and their general vibe adhere to a bygone age of the genre's glory days. Although, with the current retro resurgence in the scene, there's definitely a space for acts such as Firebomb to thrive, given the right exposure. And this self-titled release rockets along with an unfaltered dynamism for the first five tracks but, then, a few tears start to appear in their sonic canvas. Well, more specifically in the vocal department. Singing bassist Mat Randall has a fine retro-rock voice at both the high and low end of his range, letting rip with a fine delivery up to the mid-album point. But on track number six, 'Killing Me', his vocals are ever so slightly dissonant in the chorus (or a vocal line deliberately crafted with a touch of dissonance?). The same can be said for the verses and chorus in 'Rock 'n' Roll'. His delivery isn't wildly discordant as such, rather just a tad flat within the melodies. Matters slowly pick up on the next two songs before he's back on fine rocking form for album closer 'To Hell the Man' (and an unlisted eleventh track).

Firebomb do spice up their retro pastiche with a small amount of diversity such as the smattering of keyboard introduced towards the end of the album in 'She Rises', which adds an unexpected twist in their otherwise stripped-down instrumentations. Guitarist Kev Simpson doubles up on rhythm and lead to help fill out the band's sound throughout so I guess it's not as stripped-down as it could be for just a three-piece, although Firebomb's strength, undoubtedly, is in their unpretentious, no-nonsense rock energy. Ignoring a few dips in quality, notably with the vocals, this album is well worth a spin. Hopefully they'll be able to iron out the inconsistencies that ever so slightly mar this one with their next release.
Review by Mark Holmes
1) Reach for the Sky
2) Descent of Your Love
3) Firebomb
4) Love Life Loaded
5) Sick Baby
6) Killing Me
7) Rock 'n' Roll
8) Lonely Highway
9) She Rises
10) To Hell the Man
"...bursting with energy, infectious hooks, and resonant rock/metal grooves."