LIKE A STORM – Awaken The Fire

Like A Storm - Awaken The FireFirst of all, I had never ever even heard of this band until just a couple of months ago. A friend of mine who was visiting the Download Festival in Great Britain had run into these guys’ gig by accident and he told me to check them out because apparently, they were “bloody awesome”! Yeah, well, like I need yet another album to review. It’s not like I have a pile of them lying in waiting. Well, me being me, of course, I just had to check them out to find out if they were anything worthwhile. Also, I really trust my friend’s taste in music, we pretty much love the same stuff so how could I not check them out – despite their really, really crappy name. I mean, c’mon, who name their band Like A Storm? Anyway, Like A Storm were formed back in 2005 in Auckland, New Zeeland and has released one album – The End Of The Beginning (2009) – prior to this one. They have also released two E.P.’s, one of them acoustically and one live album and the music they’re playing is said to be some kind of hybrid of Post-Grunge, Hard Rock, AOR, Alternative Rock and Metalcore. Ok, we’ll have to see about that, usually the big press release words are their own truth. But the word that is out on the streets is that LAS – Chris Brooks (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Matt Brooks (lead guitar, keyboards), Kent Brooks – bass, keyboards, rhythm guitar) and Zach Wood on drums – has been creating quite a stir in the US with their music. When I read that the three brothers and their drumming buddy has been associated with bands such as Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Korn, Creed and Black Veil Brides, I kind of have my suspicions where their music is most likely going. As a fan of some of those bands and not a fan of other ones, I’m not really sure what to hope for. See, the American modern Rock thang isn’t really my case of beer and there are thirteen of those bands a dozen and too many of them sound just the same – and that bores me. I can’t separate half of all those bands I hear on the radio. That said, the bands that stick out and are good, really damn good – I’m thinking acts such as Hinder, Halestorm, Shinedown and Alter Bridge. But there is only one way to find out how these guys sound and that is to give them a fair chance. So, here’s me listening to a band from New Zeeland for the first time ever.

First track “Chaos” bodes real well.  It’s a heavy and aggressive modern metal tune with a very catchy and melodic refrain. I think of the Swedish Hard Rock band Crunge when I hear this. Very good, indeed. New single “Love The Way You Hate Me” follows and that they released this as a single is understandable. It’s heavy enough and has a striking and very catchy chorus, perfect for rock radio of today. I get the feeling that the song is written with that in mind and a bit too obvious. It reminds me of the Papa Roach of today. But the fact that “Wish You Hell” is the first single is more of a surprise as I don’t really hear single potential in it. But that doesn’t mean that the song is bad, quite the contrary. It’s a straight forward modern Metal track, an album song, if you will. “Break Free” is a ballad that could have been both a Hinder song and a Three Days Grace dito. A great tune with big hit potential. “Never Surrender” is ok, but it doesn’t stick out one bit, a straight forward Hard Rock song with a modern Metal twist, no more, no less. “Become The Enemy” sounds like a modern Metal version of Cavo, if you know how they sound and I hear resemblance to the new Swedish Hard Rockers Grand Theft Culture as well, but I guess that’s just a coincidence. It’s a good song, aggressive yet melodic. “Southern Skies” is another ballad with an enormous Hinder influence. I like a lot of Hinder’s ballads so that’s not a problem for me although in this case it borders to pure plagiarism. “Six Feet Under” is another track that sound like it’s written with modern Rock radio in mind, very catchy melodies but rocks pretty well. Next up we have the album’s sore thumb, a cover of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”! Ok, enough of this nonsense now. I’m ok with covers and I’m ok with bands wanting to cover other genres than Rock, but this crosses the line for me. Yes, the song might be very catchy, but this is a mainstream, cheesy Hip-hop radio song. Ok, so Like A Storm’s version is way superior to the crappy original and they did have the decency to spell it right (the original is spelled “Gangsta”), but this falls flat on its back. The ballad “Ordinary” is one of the best songs on this record. It’s a soft song, almost quiet and very rootsy and emotional with only vocals, acoustic guitar and strings – brilliant. The album ends with “Nothing Remains (Nihil Reliquum)”, a straight forward Rock radio tune – a decent song but it really doesn’t go anywhere.

My first impression of this record was that it was very good. Great songs, great production, great musicians. But I constantly had this feeling that something was wrong and I just couldn’t shake that feeling. After a few more spins I realised what it was that was bugging me. Here’s the deal: This band has no identity at all. None what so ever. I heard “Love The Way You Hate Me” on the radio the other day and I thought to myself: “Hmmm, this is a really good song, I wonder who’s playing…”. Get it? It could have been any of the new modern Hard Rock or Metal bands that has song all over modern Rock radio today – I just can’t tell them apart. So even though Like A Storm really have what it takes when it comes to writing a great song, they really need to create a sound of their own. Still, their ability to write catchy tunes is what saves this record. But there is another angle to look at it; maybe it’s just me that really don’t get this newer kind of Hard Rock / Metal. Maybe all the kids out there, the kids that have been growing up this kind of music will disagree with me here, maybe they will tell you and me that Like A Storm do have a style of their own and that they don’t sound like nobody else. Be that as it may, a good record it is and if you like the tunes posted below, you’ll probably dig the whole album.

6/10

Tracklist:

1. Chaos
2. Love The Way You Hate Me
3. Wish You Hell
4. Break Free
5. Never Surrender
6. Become The Enemy
7. Southern Skies
8. Six Feet Under
9. Gangsters Paradise
10. Ordinary
11. Nothing Remains (Nihil Reliquum)
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