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Saffire – Taming the Hurricane

Saffire
Taming the Hurricane
by Mark Machlay at 05 May 2022, 5:32 AM

After parting with their former drummer and getting the time they needed to rest and rejuvenate, Swedish melodic metal quintet SAFFIRE have returned in 2022 with their fourth full-length album “Taming the Hurricane” on April 22 with an LP release following on October 21. Born of a school friendship in 2005 between guitarist Victor Olsson and keyboardist Dino Zuzic, they had an idea to create an old school melodic hard rock and heavy metal outfit with a modern twist. Many months of searching later, they were joined by bassist Magnus Carlsson, drummer Gustav Elowson and vocalist Martin Jonasson. After recording their first demo in 2007, Elowson left and was replaced by then 17-year-old Anton Roos, then Jonasson had to be replaced by Tobias Jansson after a second demo was recorded in 2008. An EP was recorded and several live shows later were able to release their debut full-length “Ashes to Fire” through a recent deal with Inner Wound Recordings. After much praise and tours with high-end bands, they released two more albums – “For the Greater Good” in 2015 and “Where the Monsters Dwell” in 2018 – but unfortunately would see another member change with Efraim Larsson becoming their new drummer in 2019.

Ever since – especially while the worldwide pandemic still ravages the world  - SAFFIRE has put all their focus, time and soul into making “Taming the Hurricane”. Creatively speaking, the band has always found the hurricane to be a good parable for their writing, the creative mess in their heads, sometimes writing whole songs within minutes without touching an instrument. The band awards much of any success of the album to their new member in Larsson, saying that he is “a groovy powerhouse of a drummer, with even more raw power than they’ve had before. In a way, his sound and style, has influenced this album, quite a lot and the focus has been on just that, raw power. Both in songs and in production style.” Thematically and lyrically, the band have always tried to involve their own personal experiences while weaving them into current events for their records. Guitairst Victor Olsson says, “A song like “Flight of a Thousand Wings” is extra special for me as it’s a sort of farewell to my dear late grandfather. A theme that became personal to almost everyone of us as we all quite recently experienced grief and sorrow from losing a loved one.”

I’ve seen SAFFIRE labeled as power metal and melodic metal with DEEP PURPLE-like classic rock influences as their organ tone lends itself to that old sound. I fall more into thinking they sound more like modern prog-rock bands, combining the power of KING’S X with blending of styles and sensibilities of the softer TRANSATLANTIC or SPOCK’S BEARD. That said, many of the songs are hampered by having a similarity in that it seems like they’re always trying to go balls to the wall. Yes, you get some funkiness with the boppy “The Rapture” – and the positively 70s like groove - almost getting ballad-like at times with “Roses (Electrify)”. I will give a special mention to closer “Flight of a Thousand Wings” having such an earworm of a vocal line that borrows so much from 80s sensibility. The vocals even ride a line between a Sammy Hagar rasp and Ronnie James Dio’s virtuosic tendencies which gives things a classic feel. But, ultimately, while “Triumph of the Will” had me at the beginning with its very strong organ and hard rock approach, I started to find it difficult to tell the difference between songs by the end. SAFFIRE are a group of very talented musicians that I feel need to inject a bit more diversity in their approach to songwriting.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Triumph of The Will
2. Mr. Justified
3. The Rapture
4. Read Between the Lies
5. Taming the Hurricane
6. Silver Eyes
7. Fortune Favors the Bold
8. Wendigo
9. Roses (Electrify)
10. Flight of a Thousand Wings
Lineup:
Victor Olsson – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Efraim Larsson – Drums & Backing Vocals
Tobias Jansson - Vocals
Magnus Carlsson - Bass
Dino Zuzic – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Record Label: Rock of Angels Records
     


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