If metal bands were ranked and judged like dogs at fancy dog shows, the bloodline and pedigree of SPIRITS OF FIRE would have them winning “Best In Show” hands down. Consider the metallic breeding of bass messiah Steve DiGiorgio, lead guitar phenom Chris Caffery, drum wizard Mark Zonder and oh yeah, the vocals of a guy called Ripper who has sung with a few bands you may have heard of. There is no way that SPIRITS OF FIRE should fail with this purebred talent.

I cannot say that the self-titled debut doesn’t have some awe inspiring moments, but there is definitely some room for improvement. The bar is set very high for this bunch and that adds some pressure, too. The band sounds much like I thought it would, a high energy alloy of JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH and even FATES WARNING. The first song ‘Light Speed Marching’ is so like Painkillerera Priest, you will do a doubletake. But as it motors on, it develops more of its own identity with some subtle changes in riff and tempo. Let’s not waste any more time…Chris Caffery shreds like a motherfucker throughout the album and emerges as the hero of the album. For years he played with the great Criss Oliva in SAVATAGE – and maybe took a back seat to him – but, with the performance he unleashes here, he doesn’t have to stand in anybody’s shadow. Many are the moments here when a ripping Caffery solo saves a song from mediocrity.

There are many great moments here. The straight ahead rifferama of ‘Stand And Fight’ is a highlight, ‘It’s Everywhere’ and ‘A Game’ both show some progression and unexpected moments; each start in hard rock fashion but reach a point where things become more metallic, even somewhat thrashy, and Caffery cuts loose with awesome leads. But there are also some disappointing moments, particularly in the last third of the album, which just doesn’t match what’s gone before. ‘Meet Your End’ and ‘Never To Return’ are pretty average in structure and final ballad ‘Alone In the Darkness’ is a wet blanket. The middle section of ‘The Path’ is inspiring but beginning and ending are metal ballad by the numbers territory.
Caffery dominates but everybody else delivers. Ripper is always great and a careful listen to the bass/drum interplay between Zonder and DiGiorgio will reveal some gems. But SPIRITS OF FIRE hasn’t delivered the total classic they are capable of. If this was a debut by unknowns, it would be amazing. But these guys can do even better than this. And I’m sure they will, if they can stick together.

Review By: Dr. Mality

Spirits Of Fire
Frontiers Records
Rating: 4/6