Grace and Fire is a melodic progressive hard rock band from the East Midlands, formed in 2019 with the intention to fuse Progressive Rock with Melodic Hard Rock in an anthemic, song-based, accessible format. Have they succeeded? Let’s see…..
This album was released November 2021, produced, mixed and mastered by the legendary Karl Groom (Threshold) with some outstanding guest appearances from Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater/Sons of Apollo), Göran Edman and Mark Boals (both ex-Yngwie Malmsteen). With a pedigree of connections to bands such as Shadow of Acolyte, Cairo, The Paradox Twin, Galahad, Red Bazar and Tiger Moth Tales, expectations are high. But let’s finally get into it…..
An instrumental opening leads into a full force acceleration of head on rock, high-tempo, pulsating and harmonic and battling guitars, keys and drums all seeking supremacy. The title track then fuses guitar chops and lush keys, battering drums and a gloriously retro lead synth before the break into a half time vocal section, very reminiscent of Threshold and the late, lamented Mac. Excellent mixing gives clarity, allows the music space to breathe and makes for an excellent track.
‘Breathing Murder’ is solidly melodic rock with twin guitar and keys giving a proggy touch, harmony vocals providing attractive layering and some excellent keyboards and guitar breaks. Worth mentioning Derek Sherinian features on this track, but the rest of the band are by no means left in the shadows here, and there is a touch of straight forward Dream Theatre at times. The slower and softer ‘Paradise Lost’ features the experience of Göran Edman, an ambitious, narrative song with some excellent keyboards, clever rhythmic structure and superb harmonic guitars a spoken narrative creating quite an intense feel.
‘Chains Of Sanity’ explodes with a Frostian intro before a hard rock gallop. Chunky guitars underpin a strong vocal performance, and the rhythm section deserve plaudits here, dealing with the numerous stylistic time changes. Cue change, as calm synths and pipes introduce a ‘Sea of Dreams’, a melodic power ballad letting ‘spirits fly’. ‘A Warrior’s Tale’ has supporting vocals from Mark Boals (Ring Of Fire, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken). It’s another excellent hard rock gallop, with special mention to the rhythm section as tight as a proverbial mallards bottom. Maybe melodically a little more commercially friendly melodic rock this time round.
‘Eyes of the Seer’ is such a crunchy, tighly riffed number for the most part, and you might not believe me but I get an essence of Duran Duran in this chorus – well, if they’d gone down a prog metal corridor perhaps. A dreamy closing couple of minutes adds a welcome respite. ‘The Great Divide’ is the closer, in a two-part form. The first part is a two-minute instrumental, soaring Gilmour-esque atmospherics to start, before part two’s near-nine minute epic. Unsurprisingly this allows the band to explore its range, from bombastic climaxes, prog time-changes and instrumental touches, chugging melodic rock with metallic timbres.
This is an album that definitely showcases a melodic rock and progressive anthemic tendency, with its huge choruses, soaring guitars, lush keyboard textures in a concise song-based but cleverly diverse rock format. What was the question again?
- Overture (Instrumental) 3:11
- Elysium 5:49
- Breathing Murder feat. Derek Sherinian 6:42
- Paradise Lost feat. Göran Edman 5:43
- Chains of Sanity 5:36
- Sea of Dreams 5:57
- A Warrior’s Tale feat. Mark Boals 6:02
- Eyes of the Seer 6:19
- The Great Divide Pt. I (Instrumental) 1:59
- The Great Divide Pt. II 8:41
André Saint – Vocals
Aaron Gidney – Guitars & Chapman Stick
Tim Ashton – Bass
Graham Brown – Drums
Gary Marsh – Guest Keyboards
Zachariah Gidney – Low Whistles
Joshua Gidney – Live Keyboards