Review Summary: It's a re-release that actually improves on an already-excellent album. This is a win.
Flirting with sets of riveting strings and having an emphasis placed on pop hooks, third album Be Human
marked a new progression for London’s Fightstar. The 2009 album was what many critics and fans considered to be their best yet, rising above the critically applauded Grand Unification
and the stylistically diverse One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours
. Unlike many bands that have shot for that sense of cinematic urgency and “epic” undertones for their music in the past, Be Human
saw Fightstar largely succeeding in their admittedly pretentious endeavors, by shining a beam of new light on the premises of the band's unique, post-hardcore sound. Late last year, it was announced that Be Human
would be re-released as a deluxe edition, containing a revamped track list, four new tracks (five if you include the cover of Jordin Sparks’ “Battelfield”), and a one-hour DVD with the band’s unplugged performance at the Picturedome Theatre.
Strangely, the primary strength of this new deluxe edition of Be Human
is found in the revamped track listing. Starting off the album, “War Machine” is the perfect cut to showcase Fightstar’s creative ambition and amplified direction for this release. Beginning on electric arpeggios, the song builds and escalates into an orchestrated, bombastic experience that crescendos with Charlie Simpson's phenomenal vocal performance and accompanying choir vocals; the reverberating feel of which many bands have tried to reach and create in the past but have just fell too short. The cut is arguably the band’s best to date and does an exceptional job of brandishing Fightstar’s new direction for listeners. “Follow Me Into Darkness” still closes off the album resolutely - certainly a smart choice to leave it where it already was on the album - and the placing of the exquisitely odd “The Whisper” to farther down on the track list now makes the song blend and groove just perfectly, nestled between the heart-felt “Tonight We Burn” and new highlight “Its Blood is Black”.
Another strength to be found in relation to the new track list is what appears to be an equal distributing between the more poppy numbers and the aggressive, growling rockers throughout Be Human
. Last year’s release had hits like the “The English Way”, “Never Change”, and, arguably the band’s most poppy number yet, “Mercury Summer”, placed on the top of the track list, while the album’s more aggressive tracks were placed on the second half of Be Human
- “Chemical Blood”, “Colours Bleed To Red”, and “Damocles”. Here, the deluxe edition excels in consistency, as well as in diversity too; whereas commercial hits like “A City On Fire” and “The English Way” hit home early on with slam-dunk choruses and instrumental hooks, tracks like “Never Change” and new cut “Its Blood Is Black” stretch the melodic tendencies of the band much more evenly throughout the sixteen-track release. Likewise, the orchestrated aggression of “Chemical Blood” - arguably the band’s most unpredictable track yet, with its marvelous orchestration, aggressive sections, and melodic pleas of gruff-voice Charlie Simpson - now comes prompt and early on in track five, and “Damocles”, which recalls the band’s earliest, aggressive material, coupled with “Colours Bleed To Red”, keep the bite and punch for the latter portion of the Be Human
The four new tracks sprinkled throughout the deluxe edition of Be Human
- “A City On Fire”, “Mvua Nyusi”, “28k Resolution”, and “It’s Blood Is Black” - are fitting new additions to an already-excellent album. Each song could roughly be placed on the poppy spectrum of Fightstar’s material, drawing correlation with “The English Way”, “We Apologise For Nothing”, and “I Am The Message”- the latter two songs found on the band's 2007 album, One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours
. “A City On Fire” and “Its Blood Is Black” are easily the best new songs here, though; the prior rivaling “Mercury Summer” and “Floods” for the title of the most anthem-like Fightstar song, and the latter sporting an exceptional vocal performance from co-vocalist Alex Westaway.
To be honest, it’s a little disappointing, as these new additions and the overall poppy direction of Be Human
might indicate, that the band seem to be leaving their more aggressive, post-hardcore sound behind them. Evidently, the days of the pleading, screamed angst of “Palahniuk’s Laughter” and “Paint Your Target” are far behind us, taking with it one of the reasons why the band were so enjoyable to begin with: they played this type of dual-vocal, post-hardcore very well. Still, as the successes of Be Human
would have us believe, this new sonic direction is a very promising road that London’s Fightstar have decided to take and has promise for great things in the future. The already outstanding album that is Be Human
has been revamped with a new track list, beefed up with some well-fitted song additions, and now even sports a new live DVD. Those that already bought this back in 2009 now have a few reasons to come back and revisit for a second time around, and listeners that may be unfamiliar with Fightstar should certainly not pass up this outstanding deluxe edition either, as it improves on an already excellent album and contains many of the band's premier and best material. No matter who you may be, do yourself a favor and get this.