Boysetsfire is not just any band, and its fans are not just any fans. Boysetsfire is perhaps the most successful example of how an uncompromising Heartcore sound, an irrepressible will and unbeatable stamina can move mountains and mobilize the masses.
There is a good reason why the new album is self-titled. It is the final result of a fight for freedom that lasted years and a reawakening of all the strengths within the band, combined with the power of the close bonds between its members. The focus is on their own abilities, something that was not always easy for front man Nathan Gray, Chad Istvan, Joshua Latshaw, Chris Rakus and their German bassist Robert Ehrenbrand. The captivating euphoria that has been building around the band from Delaware/USA for years has been channeled into thirteen songs that contrast with the rage of the previous album, with rousing optimism seeping from every pore. You could say that the eponymous album is the light-hearted sister of the brooding “While a Nation Sleeps”.
While he was in the studio, front man Nathan Gray was delirious with joy and sounded more enthusiastic than in any previous interview: “This album has quickly become one of my favorites we’ve ever done, and I am dying to get it out there. In albums past, we’ve talked a lot about all the terrible things going on in this world, and this time, we’ve focused a lot on sort of overcoming all of that. It’s a much more positive vibe. Musically, there are some incredible, huge sounds on this album. It’s very much us.”
And Boysetsfire haven’t missed the opportunity to accompany their rebirth with a new look. The snake, which gives the album’s artwork a touch of mystery, is a symbol of that renewal.
The first track, “Savage Blood”, opens the album with an unbelievable energy that breaks down barriers. It features the crushing sound the world has come to expect from Boysetsfire, but with a level of intensity the band has rarely achieved before. The anger that has defined many of the post-hardcore veterans’ albums is combined with catchy hooks: Typically atypical Boysetsfire!
“One Match”, the first single from the album and perhaps the most unforgettable tune since the band’s smash hit “rookie”, makes it clear that it is a blazing torch that will light a thousand others in dark times. Despite the track’s accessibility, its lovingly crafted details show that the band has the talent to take a huge step forward in terms of songwriting on their sixth album.
“Torches to Paradise”, which is an explosive force in a philosophical band like Boysetsfire, whose members have very different beliefs, has a very special meaning for bassist Robert Ehrenbrand in particular: “To me it is about freeing myself from the burden of dogma and the imposed slavery of illusions brought upon us by society, religion and mind control… setting fire to “paradise” (aka the illusion) we free ourselves and become what we truly can be, a self-empowered and free thinking, loving entity.”
This self-produced and released album deserves even more respect when you consider the band’s turbulent past: Originally formed in 1994, Boysetsfire was as good as dead about five years ago, when its members put the shards of an almost failed career back together, risking a reunion. The post-hardcore pioneers from Delaware/USA, who helped shape the genre with their albums “After the Eulogy” and “Tomorrow Come Today”, both released around the millennium, were victims of the music industry’s demise and the failed attempt to work with a major label affiliated record company.
That brave comeback in early 2013 was based completely on the principle of self-determination and culminated in the release of their most successful album to date, “While a Nation Sleeps”, on the indie label End Hits Records, which their closest confidante had quickly established in cooperation with the band. What followed should be entered in the encyclopedia of hardcore under “P” for “Phoenix from the ashes”.
The album was a sensation, entering the German charts at #22 in 2013, and was followed by sold-out tours, headline appearances at Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park (together with Metallica in 2014), an anniversary tour that included three packed shows in major European cities, and finally the Family First Festival, which has been organized by Boysetsfire themselves and sold out in just a few weeks (August 21, 2015 in Cologne, capacity 4000).
01. Savage Blood
02. Cutting Room Floor
03. Don’t Panic
04. Ordinary Lives
05. One Match
06. The Filth Is Rising
07. Torches To Paradise
09. Heaven Knows
10. Fall From Grace
11. Dig Your Grave
12. Breathe In, Bleed Out
13. Bled Dry