Aural suicide note 

CD Review

About The Fire
Rites of Passage: a study in failure in redemption

Records Singer Sam “Fat Sammy” Clevenger isn't all that fat anymore, but what he lacks in girth he more than makes up for with stage presence. He looks like the kind of guy you'd avoid in a pit and his deep gravelly voice at times makes him sound like the Tom Waits of punk. On this CD his "weight" is still evident and has not been lost in the process of capturing his or the rest of About The Fire's live energy.

This band doesn't play off any hardcore or punk cliches; instead they sound like the natural sum of five guys that grew up listening to everything from Misfits to Motorhead. The guitars range from crunchy chords to driven riffs while the rhythm section provides an animated bottom end. There are even a few breakdowns to keep you moving.

Most of the songs here don't have a chorus in the traditional sense and the lyrics read more like short stories than verses and aren't typically repetitive. In fact, many of the lyrics flow right along with the album's art.

The CD cover shows a man hanging above a tipped over chair. "I hope this letter finds you well while I'm on an inbound train to hell," Sammy sings on the aural suicide note "To Whom It May Concern." And it makes one wonder who Sammy is talking about in "The Cleansing" with the lyrics "Now the rain has come to wash the filth away / To cleanse the fucked up streets and wash the filth away."

Rites of Passage: a study in failure in redemption isn't just a wordy title, it's a pretty dead on description of what you're getting into.

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