[Review] The Safety Fire ‘Grind The Ocean’

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Hailing from Britain, The Safety Fire are a progressive metal band that adds in dashes of tech as well as jazz. They made a large name for themselves with their EP Sections, as well as heavy touring throughout Europe. Now, they’ve finally released their debut full-length album Grind The Ocean. Does it match up to the hype or does it fall flat?

I’m going to try something a little different for this review. This album left me polarized and I want to focus on that feeling. So what I’m going to do is talk about what I feel the album got right and what it got wrong.
What ‘Grind The Ocean’ got right:
1) The bass – Bassist Lori Peri gets a lot of opportunities to jump out from the background and take the spotlight and, wow, some of those moments are fantastic. Without resorting to outrageous overplaying or pushy, in-your-face tones, Peri weaves intricate melodies and passages that are a joy to listen to.
2) The screams – Singer Sean McWeeney has a voice that you will either love or hate for the simple fact that he sounds so unique. While there are times that the mix and EQ done to his voice made it a bit grating to listen to, I have to admire and respect a voice that stands out from the crowd. 
3) The band – At the end of the day, these guys know how to play. The members work very well at playing off of each other. Anyone who says otherwise should seriously have their ears checked out.
4) The diversity – Okay, this one is going to be hard because it’s also on my “got wrong” list. But what I can that is right about the diversity is that the members obviously have a great deal of influences and inspiration from a vast amount of sources. This helps them create a varied, dynamic listening experience with a great many highs and lows. 
What ‘Grind The Ocean’ got wrong:
1) The songs – Now, there is nothing wrong with the songs themselves. What I had a problem with is that I found it very difficult to tell one song from another, even after multiple spins. It doesn’t feel like a collection of complimenting songs but rather one gigantic song broken up into several tracks. For some albums this works to an advantage. Not here.
2) The mix – Something about this mix just really sounded harsh and cold. I could hear each instrument without any difficulty but the final product ended up giving me a rather solid headache. I would love to see their next album have a sense of warmth about it.
3) The diversity – Yup, I said I’d be back here. While I appreciate the scope that The Safety Fire aimed for, it ended up feeling like the overreached and weren’t certain how to get back. There were times when it felt like the mellow/jazzy sections were placed in for the simple fact that they could be instead of offering something to the song.
The Final Word: The Safety Fire have an ambitious but flawed record with Grind The Ocean. It’ll be interesting to see what their next album brings to the table.
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