Review Summary: 'Man vs Monster' is what the Foo Fighters' last 4 albums should have been...Man vs Monster
Fighting With Wire
Cahir O’Doherty – vocals, guitar
Jamie King – bass, vocals
Craig McLean – drums, vocals
I think it is fair to say that Dave Grohl is one of the biggest rock stars alive at this present time, being the drummer from Nirvana
and the frontman of the Foo Fighters
and all that. But people who know anything about the Foo Fighters’ back catalogue will probably feel it is fair to say the band haven’t released a truly great album since 1997’s ‘The Colour and the Shape’. The four albums (five if you count the acoustic disc of ‘In Your Honour’) following have contained on average 3.5 good songs, with the rest being filler tracks ranging from ‘nearly good’ to ‘meh’ to ‘crap’. Given these facts it is perhaps difficult to see why Grohl is such a star, and why so many other bands are often over-looked. Judging by the low number of ratings on this site (3 at time of writing) it seems Fighting With Wire is one of those bands.
Hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland, Fighting With Wire have produced with their first album what Grohl and co have been attempting for 12 years: a brilliant alt-rock record. Judging by the amount of Foo’s references it is safe for you to assume the band share some sonic similarities with them, but in many areas they are (vastly) superior. Each track on Man vs Monster
buzzes with energy, evident from the start in the almost Billy Talent
–sounding “Cut the Transmission”. Even the slower/quieter sections of the album somehow benefit from this; whereas other bands sound as if they are going through the motions churning out a token ballad, album closer “This Body Is In Danger” grips you immediately with it’s sincerity, slowly builds up to a full-band climax before fading out again.
Another thing that really stands out is the production. Something that many bands in this genre can fall afoul of is over-production as they opt for a more mainstream sound, sacrificing their aggressive edge. Luckily there are no such issues on Man vs Monster
, and for me the production is perfect; each member of the band can be clearly heard, yet the guitars remain fairly forceful throughout. In addition to this the overall sound has been left pretty rough around the edges, something that other more mainstream artists often lack.
The second thing that is apparent from the off is the vocals. Cahir O’Doherty seems to possess a voice that combines elements of Dave Grohl, Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro) and at times Ben Kowalewicz (Billy Talent). He can go from standard singing to a more gruff style and even yelps and screams, all within the same song. Unfortunaley this means he may be a victim of the ‘Kowalewicz effect’, where listeners are turned off by a unique and individual style because it’s ‘a bit different’. It’s a good job that the songs are so damn good then. Going back to the Foo’s reference, those 3.5 songs per album that are good are usually the singles; fairly heavy tracks (for radio-rock) with catchy singalong choruses. On Man vs Monster
every track has a chorus with the potential to remain in your head for the whole day. Combine this with powerful, although not ground-breaking, riffs and a strong rhythm section and you have the winning formula. In fact, the high quality of every song means it’s hard for me to pick out any as highlights: each song is a possible single *cliché ends*.
It came as no surprise to me when I found out the band are signed to Atlantic internationally, hopefully meaning they gain some much deserved recognition. As long as Fighting With Wire avoid the influence major labels can have on sophomore records, they have the talent to be up there with the Foo Fighters of this world.