I’ve mentioned it before, but the fact that Colonel Blood is Fighting With Wire’s [Twitter/Facebook] first album release in almost four-and-a-half years has already stacked the odds against them. The last time I was involved in the build-up to an album that long in gestation, we got Radiohead’s polarising eighth LP The King of Limbs. (For what it’s worth, I really like that album – I need to dig it out again, now I’ve mentioned it.) It didn’t help that the band had originally planned to release the album as a free download in May, but then they only had to go and get signed by the excellent Xtra Mile. Bastards. Seriously, though, congratulations to them on that achievement, and further congratulations are in order for this one.
Something in the back of my mind told me that no matter the wait, the Derry trio’s second effort would be worth it. It wasn’t meant to be quite this good, though – living up to Man vs Monster wasn’t going to be easy, but they’ve pulled it off. There’s been plenty of growth since the olden days of May 2008, as well as record label bullshit and a whole ton of red tape, but it’s finally here, and it’s just plain brilliant. Kicked off by flagship single Waiting on a Way to Believe, the album moves through 39 minutes of (mostly) high-octane rock music. Big choruses and even bigger riffs feature prominently on an album that wears its heart on its sleeve and is all the better for it.
There have been certain unfounded comparisons to bands, who shall remain nameless, bandied about in the run-up to this album’s release, and while it’s clear whom FWW are influenced by, their hard-hitting style is all their own. Recent single Didn’t Wanna Come Back Home and Dead Memory are just two of the songs on the album which could definitely light a fire under their career, a blend of punchy anthemics and melodic precision. There are bands who already do this sort of thing who have become huge, and quite frankly it would be a fucking travesty if this lot didn’t get there sometime. Maybe this album won’t be the one to do it; maybe it will. The music industry is a fickle mistress – as if the fact that they’ve been languishing in limbo for a while wasn’t enough to highlight this – so only time will tell.
Still, there are other bands of this ilk for whom the easiest option would have been for them to write 11 soundalike songs, but FWW aren’t in the business to display a lack of vision. There are songs on the album that cleave closer to straight-up punk rock (anarchic penultimate track Blackout), and those that sound (relatively) more polished, like the slow-burning closer Run For Cover, but it all comes together to display that the band are content to do what they do best. The sound may be a more gradual progression from the debut for some than others, but who’d argue when the songs are this good? For best effect, play Colonel Blood (not just the title-track, the whole thing) as loud as you can, because it’s tremendous and deserves to be heard.
Colonel Blood is out on Monday via Xtra Mile.