Flames of Fire – Flames of Fire Review

Just weeks ago, I mentioned Finnish melodic death metal band Renascent—a band that is unashamedly Christian in theme—as a stylistic comparison for the band I was reviewing, and some folks in the comments understandably, but wrongly, assumed that the reviewed band was also Christian in nature. Well, I’m here to amaze and confuse, so I’m going to reference Renascent again, and this time, the band I’m reviewing is a Christian band. The connection between Flames of Fire—a band formed by Narnia vocalist Christian Liljegren and Swedish songwriter/guitarist Mats-Åke Andersson—and Renascent comes via one Jani Stefanović, a multi-instrumentalist who played in Renascent, as well as Miseration and Solution .45. Stefanović also played alongside Liljegren in Christian power metal band DivineFire, and while that band apparently sang its swan song over a decade ago, the fires of their desire to produce faithful cheese metal could not be extinguished forever. Flames of Fire finds Stefanović rejoining Liljegren to handle multiple instruments and production duties, so let’s see if this fire was worth rekindling.

If you’re a fan of Narnia or DivineFire, you’ll get a warm, fuzzy feeling when you listen to Flames of Fire. These guys play power metal with chunky guitars and big choruses showcasing the gritty, yet beautiful Dio-esque vocals of Liljegren, and it’s a sound that I fell head-over-heels for on DivineFire’s 2006 album Into a New Dimension—still one of the heaviest power metal albums I’ve ever heard to this day. But where DivineFire displayed obvious overlap with Stefanović’s extreme metal background, Andersson’s compositions for Flames of Fire stay closer to standard heavy/power metal fare. Embedded single “Gloria” features a classic Iron Maiden gallop, complete with harmonized twin-axe attack, and it seems as if Liljegren’s faithful service to the Lord has given his voice eternal life, because he doesn’t sound like he’s aged a day in the last couple of decades.

I’m not sure why Liljegren needs so many similarly styled bands—maybe he’s trying to be the Rogga Johansson or Jonny Pettersson of power metal, or perhaps it’s a Rhapsody of Flames of Fire situation—but you really can never have too much of a good thing. That Rhapsody comparison becomes applicable stylistically on the big Euro-power of “Time to Live,” and “I Am” will bring Dream Evil to mind with the way it uses an intro of high-flying guitars to launch into hard-rocking perfection. “Madness” is the song that most reminds me of DivineFire, featuring some of Liljegren’s most powerful vocals and some excellent melodic lead guitar work. “Soldiers of the King” is just a fabulous power metal track. The lyrics veer a bit into “preachy” territory, although that shouldn’t be very surprising for people familiar with the band members’ other projects.

I really wanted to go a bit higher with the score, but one track singlehandedly held me back. At nearly ten minutes, “Solution” makes up about 25% of the runtime on Flames of Fire, and it doesn’t quite justify its length. Musically, it’s actually really cool, with a mid-paced, down-tuned stomp that brings to mind some of Nevermore’s slow crushers—it even has a Loomis-esque solo—but the lyrics move into extreme cringe territory. I can generally look past silly lyrics if the music is good, but I find myself physically wincing as Liljegren belts out “Satan, get away! I belong to God!” It’s really too bad, because with some trimming and more subtle preaching, the song had a chance to be a standout on the record. But when all is said and done, there are plenty of tracks to harvest for a power metal playlist, namely “Gloria,” “Madness,” “I Am,” “Time to Live,” “Soldiers of the King,” and the title track.

I’m not sure how necessary this review is. If you’re familiar with and like Christian Liljegren’s other bands, you’re going to like Flames of Fire. If the band’s faith had been expressed with a bit more finesse in the lyrics, the record had a chance for some interdenominational appeal, but as it stands, those who find themselves to be allergic to overt displays of devotion should steer well clear, lest they burst into a holy conflagration. Ultimately, Flames of Fire has a target audience, and that audience is sure to be pleased with the anthems on offer here.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Melodic Passion Records
Website: facebook.com/flamesoffireofficial
Releases Worldwide: March 18th, 2022

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