Fightstar - Be Human
Record Label: Search and Destroy Records
Release Date: April 19, 2009
When a band does it for the music, it’s obvious. That’s what you’ll hear on Fightstar’s new album, Be Human. After their last record label imploded, the band took it upon themselves to bankroll this album. They toured throughout 2007-2008 to earn the money to pay for Be Human. They took their time to make the album what they wanted it to be. When drummer Omar Abidi broke his foot in the middle of recording, they didn’t hire some outside session drummer. Vocalist/guitarist Charlie Simpson underwent intensive drum training from Abidi, and recorded the parts himself. In this modern age of music, it’s hard to find honest musicians. But, Fightstar has always been the band to do what they wanted to do, and they're so damn good at doing it.
“Calling On All Stations” is the album’s opening track, and it serves its purpose well. Nearly every song on the album has a backing orchestra, and it starts here. But, while other bands have used an orchestra in a gimmick fashion (I’m looking at you KISS), Fightstar works with the orchestra to make their music that much more epic. “Calling On All Stations” would fit perfectly in the opening credits of a World War II movie. It has the emotion of a ballad with the power of full-on rock song. It opens the album by giving the listener a taste of what’s to come in the next 46 minutes. The final line sets up the next song perfectly. Simpson sings “I vow to save this country”, and then states the problems in his country in “The English Way.” Being the album’s first single, “The English Way” was met with some resistance when it was first released. Fans were split, either loving the song, or hating it. But, they were all right about one thing: Alone, the song doesn’t sound like much of Fightstar’s back catalog, but, in the context of the album, it’s evident that this is where it belongs.
The next song is the much hyped, “War Machine”. In interviews and press releases leading up to the album’s release, nearly everyone was talking about this song, and for good reason. The amazing musicianship from the band, the great orchestra, and the choir used on a few tracks all culminate in “War Machine”. The result is nothing short of a masterpiece. The song culminates in Simpson declaring “I’m not a war machine” while the choir seems the scream the opposite at him. The song makes the listener feel a sense of being pulled in two directions. It’s something that this generation can relate to. With wars all over the world, and ‘patriotism’ tearing nations apart, Fightstar has crafted the perfect song to deal with it all.
The next song is “Never Change”, which fits into the same mold as “The English Way”. It’s a good song, but, it was made to be a single (evident by the fact that it will be the next single). “Colours Bleed to Red” follows this song, and is one of the only songs not to feature an orchestra or a choir. “Colours…” is reminiscent of older Fightstar (for fans of Grand Unification), and it really stands out here. It’s a solid track, and it makes sense where it is in the track listing. After “Colours…” is the track “Whisperer”. “Whisperer” begins with what sounds like a trip through a swamp. Handclaps, tambourines, and a harmonica intro give way to a blues piano and bouncy guitar riff. If it sounds weird, that’s because it is. The song doesn’t really sound like anything the guys have ever done, even more so than “The English Way” and “Never Change”. It’s a song that needs two or more listens to like, and it has to be in the course of the album. Once the listener gets used to it, it really is a great song. It’s refreshing to see Fightstar step out of their comfort zone for a song and succeed at it.
The second half of the album kicks off with the second single, “Mercury Summer”. This song is a little more pop, like “The English Way”, but still sounds like Fightstar. The band shows off their ability to write radio-friendly rock music that still stays true to their own sound. The following song is “Give Me the Sky”, which is the band’s first real love song. This is another way for the band to shine at something they normally don’t do. The guitar riff and the lyrics will remind many fans of a certain band (here’s a hint: it’s the Cure). The song would be able to work on the radio, and it could be a fixture on love mixtapes for years to come. The final four songs go back and forth between heavy and soft. “Chemical Blood” brings back the anime influences of Fightstar’s past (extra points if you get the Ghost in the Shell reference). Lyrics about switching out body parts with synthetics are accompanied by sharp violins and double bass drumming. It’s a song that really shows off Fightstar’s ability to play completely in sync with each other. “Tonight We Burn” is the album’s only Al Westaway-centric song. Simpson takes a backseat in the vocals department for this one, only singing on the chorus. The band really plays off of the vocal differences of the two quite well. A slower track, “Tonight We Burn” is the song that Westaway needed to sing. The pacing of the song fits with Westaway’s vocal stylings, which, in the past, has sounded a bit shy. But, he’s stepped up here, finally sounding like he wants to be singing. Switching back to heavy (And I mean heavy) is “Damocles”. This is easily Fightstar’s heaviest song on this album, if not in Fightstar’s career. Starting off with a haunting piano, a metal guitar riff slowly fades in, and a crescendo of huge drums and guitars open up the floodgates for Simpson’s angry screaming. The drumming on the track was done in tandem by Simpson and Abidi, and it sounds perfect. The final track on the album is the slower, somewhat electronic “Follow Me into the Darkness”. It follows the trend of the last album’s closing track, “Unfamiliar Ceilings”, of being something that sounds completely different from the rest of the album. But, just like that track, “Follow…” is an amazing closer. Although it is different, it really does sum up the album, with the orchestra really being brought out to the forefront.
Be Human is an album that will take a couple of listens to fully enjoy. Fightstar tries out some new things on the album, and really pulls it all off. After One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours, some fans were polarized as to what the band was trying to sound like. But, Be Human is truly the album the band was destined to make. With songs like “Calling On All Stations”, “War Machine”, “Colours Bleed to Red”, and “Damocles”, Fightstar has written what they’ve wanted to write, and succeeded beyond what anyone would have thought possible. Be Human is an album that English music fans should go out buy immediately, and fans around the world should import. With this album, Fightstar aims to takeover the British music scene, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they succeed.
I dont understand how people here dont know about this band.Yeah they are from the UK but still.
Those retarted kids manage to know who Bring me the Horizon is but they are fucking terrible.
Nice review they do it for the music i wish i could see them live again.
Great review. Such a good album, favourite tracks for me are probably Give Me The Sky, The Whisperer, Colours Bleed, and Tonight We Burn. I love this band, everything they do is amazing. I hope they're around for a long time.
Don't see why some people here love this band so much.
dunno... because they're great? :D honestly, i understand that some people don't like them, their sound and especially vocals are kinda specific. it took me a very long time to get into "One Day Son..." but eventually, "Be Human" became one of my most anticipated albums, there's not enough bands as unique as Fightstar...
I remember how excited I was when I first listen to War Machine. It's was just so bold, it has a very cinematic feel. But yep, Fightstar have tried something different here, and I admire them for that. Some tracks don't appeal to me as much as others, but yeah, this is certainly worth a listen, and I did really enjoy this one. Calling on all stations is a cracking opener too!