The Safety Fire
Grind The Ocean
09 April 2012
By Tomas Doyle
It is easy to wonder how on earth Djent will be looked back on in a decades time. It wouldn’t be an enormous leap of imagination to see it bearing the brunt of similar derision that nu-metal now faces some 10 years or so after that fads heyday – both comprise dudes in ill fitting clothes producing music predominantly for other dudes in ill fitting clothes with anguished “I won’t clean up my bedroom!” rapping now replaced by an equally unhealthy desire to hermetically seal oneself in a practice room and master the art of playing in 13/24.
Indeed, if this analogy does ring true then it will be those bands from the emergent technical scene who are able to transcend the genres accepted boundaries and push the envelope of creativity that will survive in the medium to long term. So the real question is, with Grind The Ocean, are The Safety Fire making their case for themselves as being a Deftones or a Slipknot, or as a Union Underground or H-Blockx?
Well, if you’re looking for a record that smashes the mould of what you would expect from a Djent album then you will be sorely disappointed, this is pretty much as middle of the road as it is possible to get within the framework of the genre. Everyone in The Safety Fire is, of course, very good at their instruments and all the songs are expansive affairs which require you to concentrate and preferably apply your musical mind to appreciate the magnitude of the wizardry that is unfolding before you. Concentrating is a good thing of course (and excellent for the soul) and by sticking to a style which is complex and intertwining, The Safety Fire have made an album with will yield plenty when subjected to repeat listens. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to put Grind The Ocean into the category of CDs that you have to climb inside before you can appreciate them because there are flashes of more immediate brilliance perpetuated most readily by vocalist Sean McWeeney but backed up admirably by the mellifluous dual guitar attack of Dez Nagle and Joaquin Ardiles.
This is not an album that ever really gets around to pulverising you into submission in the same way that, say, a Meshuggah record would (and does). It feels somehow more refined, more content to waft its impressive riffs in your face rather than smash it off with them. That is not intrinsically a bad thing and does mean that across nearly fifty sprawling minutes the thing does feel remarkably musical with real, actual songs that have a very clear sense of their atmosphere and melodic narrative. That being said, if you do want to bang your head, then why not try the second half ‘Floods of Colour’ on for size – it will make your neck hurt.
Watch the video to ‘Huge Hammers’ by The Safety Fire:
Essentially, if you like Djent and have the patience and capacity for its labyrinthine stylings then Grind the Ocean has all the pieces in place to make you sit up and take note. This is especially true if you value good quality songwriting and epic tonality in your progressive metal, as opposed to dullfuck noodling which drags on from here to the middle of next week. It’s solid, and the diehards will find much to recommend it – but if your favourite band are Black Flag then this might not quite have enough in the tank to convince you that a 7-string guitar is the thing you are lacking above all others in your life. As for me, I’m off to listen to Crazy Town.
Sounds Like: A thousand people writing in to say this isn’t proper “Djent”.
Standout Tracks: Huge Hammers, Animal King.