Most of the time when I write these reviews of albums, I like to listen to the album once and give the audience my first reaction of the album, I want to soak it all in and deliver a raw reaction to what I was listening to, but this album was different, the album was deeper than anything that I have heard in a very long time. So, what do I do in this situation? I listen to is, over and over, non-stop for two weeks, dissecting every aspect of the songs, the musicianship, the lyrics, the delivery and the overall experience of the release.
Narrative Retold is the second full-length release from Fire From The Gods, and the album is a platform for Vocalist AJ Channer to expose his personal story – one that isn’t just relatable to many, but eye-opening as well. When I first listened to this album, it’s mix of heavy metal instrumentation, as well as the blend of Hip-Hop, Metal and slight Reggae tones and to top it all off the vocal delivery of the lyrics are well balanced and defined, there is a reason behind what this band is doing and the sound that they are creating.
For me and the main reason why it took me two weeks to even write this review, it was the lyrical content of the music. Channer is hitting on elements that are affecting our society and generations right now in this exact moment. The lyrics touch on everything from depression, loneliness, worthlessness, political issues and well as police violence and discrimination. When I interviewed AJ a few weeks ago at Carolina Rebellion, I didn’t know that he would become one of my favorite lyricists of recent and his band would release one of the best albums of 2017 at this point.
The content of Narrative Retold seems to be plucked right out of AJ’s life, born in the Bronx, raised by a single mother of Jamaican descent, Channer had all of the elements in his life to give his words purpose and meaning.
“This album is the personal narrative of a minority man living in major cities and being American,” he explains. “There’s a socio-economic theme throughout the whole record that carries from each song to song. It’s all about the underdog. We’ve all had to fight for everything we have in this band. The political climate in our country is quite racially and socially charged. There are a lot of issues and energy people are expressing along with misguided hate and anger. I want to channel this in music that can resonate. This is where we come from and who we are as a band.”
The words spoken above radiate through the album from the very first track to the closing of the last words of the narrative. Even though this album is very high on my list and I can sit here all day and write nothing but positivity about this release, I do have one complaint. Many times, I prefer acoustic versions of songs, I love the stripped-down simplicity of acoustic, leaving the artists to stand on their own without any help from any outside forces, but the acoustic version of “Excuse Me” seemed more out of place than a metalhead at a country music festival. I think that the song itself needs that powerful instrumentation and delivery to help portray the meaning of the song in the way that it needs to be shown.
Overall, I think that Fire From The Gods have created an album that is not only amazing in musicianship and lyrical content but I think they seriously have raised the bar for the industry when it comes to the music. In a time when music really has no meaning this band has created something that speaks not only to one single genre of music, but it radiates throughout multiple platforms and speaks to people from every walk of life. Even if you are not a fan of Metal, you will find something on this release when you listen to it. “I want people to feel empowered when they listen to this record,” AJ states. “Come out of the experience knowing somebody thinks like you. You’re not alone.”
Narrative Retold is now available via the band’s website, iTunes and Google Play through Rise Records. You can also watch the powerful the new music video for the band’s newest single, “The Voiceless” via the YouTube link below.