World Fire Brigade is certainly not low on Fuel. This trio of post-grunge renegades counts Fuel front man Brett Scallions, Smile Empty Soul lead singer/guitarist Sean Danielsen, and Eddie Wohl – best known as a producer/mixer for both bands, as well as Anthrax – among its members. And then, adding more Fuel to the fire, there’s Ken Schalk, Fuel’s current drummer, working in the trenches doing all the percussive dirty work for World Fire Brigade. On Spreading My Wings, their debut LP, these fire bugs have ignited a barely contained burn of riff-hungry, commercially accessible hard rock set ablaze with heated passion and intense emotions. They have no intention of putting out the blaze.

Decidedly heavier and more metallic than Fuel, World Fire Brigade was originally conceived as a sort of songwriting collective established to create material for other artists. In the end, they just couldn’t bring themselves to give away the product of their sweat and toil. No, this stuff, caught in the grip of hooks that simply don’t let go, was too good to pawn off on someone else.

Unexpectedly bracing, Spreading My Wings is a grinding, explosive work order that World Fire Brigade carries out with surprising vigor and guitars stuck in overdrive, especially on the gnarled, growling “Don’t Walk Away” and the slamming, groove-oriented serpents “All My Demands” and “Never Saw the Wall” – all of them red-hot furnaces of ferocious, prison-riot riffs and sizzling, screaming guitar leads, possibly inspired by the appearances of Anthrax’s Rob Caggiano and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. More radio-friendly, “All You Know,” “Weight of the World,” and the title track all go through their periods of almost thrash-like intensity and rage, but when they dissipate and the vast, big-sky choruses that made Fuel famous come into view, plumes of melody fan out across the great expanse and take your breath away, as they do in “Shell of Me.”

Falling into predictable patterns, World Fire Brigade simply can’t help itself when it arrives at those choruses. They have to be vast and emit retina-scorching UV rays, the soaring vocals must be laid out on blankets of swaying, sustained guitar chords lightly fried with distortion, and they have to arrive right on time, as if they have to stick to a tight schedule. A welcome anomaly is “Fly,” a tender, delicately sketched acoustic ballad that goes by quickly, but is terribly affecting. So are the introspective lyrics of Spreading My Wings, which seek to leach the toxins of hurt, betrayal, anger and world-weary resignation from World Fire Brigade’s body and spirit. The cleansing starts now.


Label: Entertainment One (The audio CD can be purchased here)


Formerly the editor of Goldmine magazine, prior to the reign of one Patrick Prince, Peter Lindblad has been a music journalist for the last 10 years. His work has also appeared in Elmore magazine and, among other publications. He believes heavy metal has the power to cure the sick and make the blind see.