Released by: Inner Wound Recordings
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Classic Hard Rock, Progressive Metal
02. Kingdom of the Blind
03. Freedom Call
04. End of the World
05. What If
06. A Symphony Unheard
08. Modus Vivendi
09. The Betrayer’s Fate
10. She Remains a Mystery
11. Say Goodbye
12. The Redemption
13. Stormy Waters
Tobias Jansson – Vocals
Victor Olsson – Guitars
Anton Roos – Drums
Dino Zuzic – Keyboards
Magnus Carlsson – Bass
As soon as you hear the sound of the rolling Hammond organ in the opening track ‘Magnolia’ you know you’re in for a vintage classic hardrock adventure. But Swedish newcomers Saffire have a lot more to offer on their first full album: from classic hardrock (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake) to superb melodic rock (Journey) to bombastic progrmetal (Symphony X), these guys have it all !
Founded in Gothenburg in 2006 by guitarist Victor Olsson and keyboardist Dino Zuzic, Saffire first started playing locally to a growing fan base due to their excellent live shows.
In the next years there were some line-up changes but with the arrival of drummer Anton Roos (in 2008) and vocalist Tobias Jansson (in 2010) the band found their current steady and strong line up. After recording some demo’s the guys felt that they had enough material to record a full fledged album entitled “From Ashes To Fire”. A top notch production, mixed by Fredrik Nordström & Henrik Udd at Studio Fredman [At The Gates, In Flames], mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios [Symphony X, Opeth] and released on may 17th at Inner Wound Recordings.
The album can be divided in two parts, the first one (let’s say the first 6 tracks) contain the more classic hardrock influences mentioned above. Powerful guitar riffs by the band’s main songwriter Victor, vintage keyboards (Hammond !) from co-founder Dino and the excellent melodic rock voice of Tobias are the main ingredients here. Together with the constant high quality level of the compositions, Saffire guarantees you some fascinating songs with melodies that easily stick in your head.
But personally I’m even more impressed by the second half of the album (from ‘Paralyzed’) onwards) where these guys showcase their brilliant musicianship in a more progressive rock& metal style with longer, challenging pieces. This is the part where the bombast comes in with symphonic arrangements, in the vein of Symphony X. At this point it strikes me more and more that Tobias is such a great singer, he even has the sound of the great Russel Allen here. And what about the keyboard man Dino ? He clearly steps forward with flashy solo’s but never leaving the Hammond sound, amazing.
My absolute favorite is ‘Modus Vivendi’ with it’s hypnotic keyboard patterns, super symphonic sound and impressive drumming. And did I tell you that this piece is also catchy as hell ? But in fact every track here can be recommended : the engaging ‘The Betrayers Fate’ (ultra progmetal), the fabulous, piano-driven ballad ‘She Remains A Mystery’, the appealing rocker ‘Say Goodbye’ (Journey-style), the groovy progmetal song ‘the Redemption’ or the closing ‘Stormy Waters’ with it’s progressive, sometimes jazzy hooks.
It’s a great achievement for a debuting band to change styles in such a fluid way and display such variation and solid high level of songwriting. Saffire is a more than apt name for this Swedish outfit and their freshman album ‘From Ashes to Fire” (unfortunately a clichéd title and album cover, the only flaws in my opinion) is one of the best debut albums I’ve heard this year so far. I can only hope that these guys will soon be able to write, record more of this heavenly good music. An exciting future is ahead of them and who knows, maybe this review can help a little bit to spread the word.
Written by Ruud