Perhaps the most depressing aspect of being a fan of metal in this day and age is seeing how 'fun' has become a dirty word. When reading through the lists of bands that are popular with both the people and the critics, they tend to have one thing in common; they're miserable. Metal today is a drab, colorless world in which everything has to be dark, ugly, and consumed with the depths of suffering. There is no place in the mainstream for rock or metal music that remembers that music isn't life and death, that we're allowed to have fun, and listen to songs that make us want to sing along.
Brother Firetribe is one of those bands that exists in the periphery, an outlet for the musicians to escape the day to day rigors of being deadly serious at all times. For Nightwish guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, this band is his chance to break loose of the expectations that come along with being in a massive metal band, to let his hair down and remember that almost all of us fell in love with music because it was fun.
Of course, everyone has a different definition of fun, and the music that Brother Firetribe plays is more likely to be written off as cheesy. There's truth to that adjective, but it misses a larger point about music; art doesn't always have to be artistic. I realize that is a complete contradiction, but I think the point holds. The rock and metal bands that are most successful today are the ones that treat their music as something more than just getting together and playing some songs. They are the ones that make albums that are statements, that try to refine and develop the very meaning of what metal is.
The irony is that rock music is thriving in the live scene, not on record, which requires a completely different approach. The music that works best on the stage is not the avant-garde, nor the pretentious, but the bare-bones rock music that can work a crowd into a frenzy. That is the kind of music that Brother Firetribe makes, and it's why a record like “Diamond In The Fire Pit” is so refreshing. The band isn't trying to say anything, nor are they making any allusions to bigger things; they simply want to play good songs and have a good time.
That is exactly what the record does, spinning out a set of songs that are certainly saccharine at times, but want to be loved. While so many bands attempt to make music that, on an intellectual level, actively aspires not to be listened to, Brother Firetribe writes the kind of songs that put a smile on the face of anyone who remembers the fading memory of the 80s.
Song after song, the band delivers the oversized hooks that rock music desperately needs. The choruses of the opening one-two punch, “Love Is Not Enough” and “Far Away From Love” suck you in, and the rest of the album delivers on the promise. From front to back, this is an album that serves up exactly the kind of polished rock songs that are determined to make themselves a permanent part of your memory.
Sure, the sound is a bit dated, and could stand to have a little more grit introduced, but part of the appeal is that it feels like an album from another time, a relic of the past come to remind us of how far we have let rock music fall. Anyone who appreciates good songwriting should give “Diamond In The Fire Pit” a chance, because there isn't nearly enough of this kind of music in our consciousness anymore. No, I wouldn't say this is the best album of this kind I've heard this year (that would be the new H.E.A.T. album), but that doesn't diminish the fact that Brother Firetribe has made an immensely likeable record that I'm sure will get more than a few spins this summer.