"Their Rock Is Not Our Rock"

(Liquor and Poker)

01. It Flies Again
02. Sundown
03. The Broken
04. In the End
05. Hellspeak
06. Two Tears
07. Under the Thunder
08. Spill the Demons
09. Rising from the Deep
10. Save the Saved

RATING: 5.5/10

I've never understood the big deal about FIREBALL MINISTRY. The quartet is a solid rock band with a decent sense of melody, but they aren't the saviors of rock and roll. Maybe I haven't been exposed to enough of the music on previous releases (though I did recently see a strong live performance from the band on a bill with OPETH and PELICAN). Whatever the case may be, "Their Rock is Not Our Rock" follows a pretty standard formula of rolling, upbeat grooves, basic beats, and melody lines that follow a similar pattern through most of the album.

This does not mean that I think the album blows ass. It just lacks punch. It's not necessarily a case of bad songwriting either. The problem is that after I've heard the gruff Danny Joe Brown (R.I.P.) vocals of James A. Rota II on the verses and the clean, melodic, sometimes Ozzy-ish singing on the choruses of tracks like "It Flies Again", "Sundown" and "Broken", I've basically heard the entire album. OK, one song is not a carbon of the other. "Two Tears" works quite well, showing an affinity for early KISS, right down to a brief Frehley-like guitar solo, "Hellspeak" has a nice melancholic bent to it, and the moments when the band breaks out of its mid-tempo groove and quickens the pace (i.e. "Save the Saved") helps too. It still tends to run together after a while and never reaches climax. The riffs aren't quite tough enough to satisfy (even the bluesy and SABBATH-like moments) and there is a distinct lack of tension-and-release dynamics. That leaves a level of tunefulness that's marginally better than average, and rarely remains etched in the psyche.

I do dig FIREBALL MINISTRY's whole rock-n-roll-for-life aesthetic. It's unfortunate that none of "Their Rock is Our Rock" leaves much of a lasting impression. There is nothing to dislike, nor anything to get excited about. I can take it or leave it.


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