Of the four musicians that make up Slayer’s classic line-up, Dave Lombardo has always stood out as the most artistically gifted and restless. Want proof?
Well, apart from the fact that the Californian Thrashers always end up sounding as mere shadows of their former selves every time the Cuba-born drummer leaves their ranks, his musical escapades outside the legendary said outfit has involved styles of music that innovative and forward-thinking the average Metal fan finds quite difficult to relate to (see Fantomas, Apocalyptica, Jon Horn, etc).
Latest example of the skinsman’s continuous desire to explore new musical worlds comes in the shape of “Fire From The Evening Sun” – the second full length album of his Experimental/Progressive Rock power trio Philm.
If you chose to invest in “Fire From The Evening Sun” in the hope that what you will come across with is a “Reign In Blood Pt.II” then you’re in for some great disappointment here. Rather than operating in staccato mid tempo riffs and Araya-style vocal melodies, Philm’s second studio album finds Lombardo and Co revisiting and reinterpreting Punk Rock through the prism of Funk, Groove & even Piano-Lounge music!
Now, before you decide to give up on this twelve track release altogether it is important to state, in pretty unequivocal terms, that though a thematically challenging release, “Fire From The Evening Sun” is also an energy-driven album filled with clever riffs and melodic vocal parts – a release that finds Lombardo pounding his drum kit with the passion and energy of a man half his age.
Have I caught your attention? Great, do read on then!
It may be true that it took me a while to get used to Gerry Nestler’s vocals but, with the benefit of hindsight, a song like the harmony driven “Train” would have sounded half as menacing as it does now had his Punk-sounding vocal performances were left out in favour of a more straight-forward approach to singing.
Closer to the spirit of latter day Grip but more groovy in comparison, the same-titled “Fire From The Evening Sun” is a beast of high energy while the rhythmically deranged “Lady Of The Lake” will make the most knowledgeable amongst you draw comparisons with the music of the mighty Voivod.
Opening as a slow-tempo moody piece “Lion’s Pit” soon turns into a heavy riffed piece, featuring some intense drumming by his highness Mr. Lombardo while the 70s sounding duet “Silver Queen” / “We Sail At Dawn” add much to the albums versatility.
“Omniscience” is the closest that the band came to creating Punk Rock poetry and would easily have been one of the highlights of the album had the trio chosen to drop the song’s less than complementary guitar solo while the equally disappointing “Fanboy” is a two minute exercise in creating totally uninspiring heavy Rock’n’Roll.
Luckily the latter part of the album finds the band getting back to form, staring with moody and aggressive in equally measure ditto “Luxhaven” and following it up with the high velocity riff-led Punk Rocker “Blue Dragon”.
As for the absolute highlight; the title goes rightfully to “Turn In The Sky” – a six minute piece of tribal/ethnic sounding drum beats, narrative/whispering style vocals and simple guitar harmonies of the most fitting nature to the song’s needs.
And how does an album as diverse in influences and styles as this concludes it’s unique ‘service’? Simple, with the help of a five and a half minute trumpet-led, piano lounge anthem entitled “Corner Girl” – a composition that is bound to raise as many eyebrows as the amount of jaws it will firmly drop on the ground.
I would honestly be lying to you if I were to tell you that “Fire From The Evening Sun” is a straight-forward, easy listening album that you will get hooked to after only a couple of moderate spins.
There are plenty of layers of music and time signature changes for you to get to grips with but, providing that you have the time and patience to invest in decrypting the music formulae on offer, what you will end up enjoying is a pretty unique musical experience indeed.
Cannot wait to see what Dave has installed for us next – till then, this little beauty will certainly keep me a very good company in the coming winter.