FireForce recently hit the Metal world back in 2009, and quickly after forming issued a self-released EP entitled Moonlight Lady. This EP then led to this Belgium based Heavy metal act to land a deal with 7hard records to issue their debut full-length recording, March On. With some promising material released prior to this album, this debut offering becomes a rather important step out of the underground for FireForce, but the question remains as to whether the material here is strong enough to make a long laster impression on the fans of Heavy Metal.
Well, March On definitely brings a strong attitude with it. The material throughout the album captures the spirit of Heavy Metal well, and that becomes pretty clear with the more aggressive and chugging track “Coastal Battery”, a song that brings a strong attitude with it that feels both righteous and a decleration of war. The more aggressive approach to an old-school NWOBHM style of music works great for the group, and the vocal performance that sounds similar to the approach on modern Korpiklaani, having that harmonized rhaspy sound to it, though in this case far more energetic and even commanding, all working well with the fury-driven music. Of course, that is how some of the more energetic vocal performances come off, but not the only way you can look at them. Some tracks have a similar rhaspy harmonization, but not as rich, and can come off more like something one might hear on a Kreator album.
As the album continues, you happen on plenty of more traditional Heavy Metal tracks, but still with a darker vibe to them, and still able to retain a nice bite, though nowhere near the energetic performance that is “Coastal Battery”. The closest one is the track “Moonlight Lady”, a generally faster track with a little more technical work in the lead guitars between some of the main verses of the song. This also stands out for being far catchier then some of the other tracks. While much of the album is strong and have a powerful presence, the aforementioned vocal style brings in a bit of a Folk Metal vibe that often doesn’t quite work with the song due to how rich they are compared to the more traditional Heavy Metal sound. This track, however, finds a cleaner vocal performance that works well with the traditional Heavy Metal performance, which is something that should have been incorporated into some other songs on here, such as “Firestorm” or even “1302 – Battle for Freedom” amongst others, easing off the richness and commanding approach to give way to a catchy yet still somewhat authoritive cleaner style. The band does execute a nice combination of the richer, harsher vocals with the cleaner singing style on “Mon Lisa”, and it works well with the music of the track, which feels a little lighter compared to some of the more epic and aggressive tracks of the recording.
But this isn’t to say that only those songs with cleaner singing are any good.”The Only Way” is another entertaining track that brings a good deal of intensity to the music, though not as much as “Coastal Battery”, but the song itself is still catchy and has a pretty commanding performance full of energy. “Fly Arrow Fly” is another song that shows promise thanks to the guitar work of the song. Some of the leads actually do take on a bit of a Folk vibe to the music, and by doing so it works well with the vocals, thoh this time they are a little cleaner then you would hope given that atmosphere in the guitars. Even with the cleaner style it works out, as the song is another catchy track with some impressive guitar work. “Born to Play Metal”, of course, just feels like your typical Metal anthem, and it’s one that is well done from start to finish, and seems to take some ques from Manowar int he manner it’s performed. It comes off a little more epic compared to other tracks, which is actually pretty interesting to hear on such an aggressive album like this. Of course there’s another Metal anthem immediately after this track called “Metal Rages On”, which is not so much an epic sounding track, but has more of a commanding aggression that “Horus (Bringer of Order)” had, except this time in an instrumental form to close out the album, leading to another enjoyable track.
Overall, March On by FireForce isn’t the most spectacular of Heavy Metal releases, but it definitely have a very commanding presence to some of the songs, and the rest just feel like well done traditional Heavy Metal songs. The additional Folk vibe to some of the tracks does give the album a bit of a unique vibe, but it’s just not strong enough to leave much of an impression on the listener. The clashing of the rich vocals against the music sometimes also hinders the overall sound of the album, and while those tracks clearly have some great intensity, or even just have the obvious talent to be great songs, they often just lack a strong enough bite to really hook the listener, which was the case for me as even by the fifth time through I could not get into it. It’s not an album worth passing up despite these faults, so if you get a chance to check it out, take the time to experience March On by FireForce.