Review Summary: An excellent debut album by Simpson's real band.
What is the first thing people think of when they hear of Fightstar or Charlie Simpson, you guessed it; "Busted". While Simpson was in this poor boy band with guitars (which comprised of him on guitar), he was merely suspended in a rut which limited what he could do as a musician. Even by looking at the band’s music videos, you could instantly tell that Charlie was clearly unhappy and uncomfortable. After a string of commercial pop songs and becoming increasingly discontent, Simpson decided to call it quits with Busted. Fortunately enough in late 2003, Simpson came across musician (now fellow band member), Alex Westway and formed Fightstar. After the critical success and positive feedback from their 2005 EP, "They Liked You Better When You Were Dead" (which was popularised by lead single “Palahniuk’s Laughter”), Simpson knew he had something special with this new outfit and pursued a full time career with the band. As many people can remember, when Fightstar first emerged on the scene, the band was faced with much scepticism and Simpson was constantly being pigeon-holed as “that guy” from "Busted". However most of that silenced due to live shows and the popularity of their EP.
Fast-forward to March 2006, Fightstar released their full length debut album entitled "Grand Unification" and they proved all the doubters and more importantly, all the haters, wrong. At the time of its release, the album received much praise from critics and fans alike and to this day, is considered by many to be their best album to date. I, myself, remember a friend recommending Fightstar to me a few years ago and I already knew that the band were vastly different and superior to Busted. When I first watched the music video for “Palahniuk’s Laughter”, I was blown away by the band’s sound, the sheer heaviness of the guitars and Simpson’s much improved vocals. I then took my friend’s word for it and decided to purchase a copy of "Grand Unification", and it’s still an album that I occasionally bang my head to and enjoy.
The album starts off with mellow opener “To Sleep”, and the title is a brilliant choice because the sound of this track sounds very similar to how a bedtime lullaby would. The last thing you want to do though, while listening to this album, is to fall asleep, just before it erupts with the album’s first proper song, “Grand Unification Pt I”. As soon as it starts, it grabs you with this awesome riff followed by Simpson’s vocals, which are quite impressive. The song has a brilliant chorus which is accompanied by Westway’s vocals, which are also impressive and features a heavy breakdown towards the last minute, which makes you want to headbang. The first single off the album “Waste A Moment”, starts off quiet and you can hear Haigh’s bass lines very clearly throughout. The song’s best lyrics include, ‘I’m not asking for much, I’m not asking for anything’, which Simpson sings at the start, and is quite memorable.
The next track, “Sleep Well Tonight”, is insanely catchy and is a contender for best song on the album. It features great riffs and vocal melodies, and has all the right ingredients to make it truly special. The chorus is huge and would have everyone singing along to every word. “Paint Your Target” was the next single and starts off with a fairly simple, yet effective riff, and then explodes with a heavier riff. Abidi’s drumming shines here and you get to hear how good he actually is. Following this track, the album comes to, arguably, the heaviest song on the album, “Build An Army”. Simpson’s vocals here are very Chino Moreno-esque and the song has a dark vibe throughout. Along with “Grand Unification Pt I”, you want to headbang to this song towards the end. The album up to this point is very consistent and when the second half begins, it doesn’t lose much steam. Seventh track, "Here Again (Last Conversation)”, is another standard Fightstar offering which features a typical, memorable chorus, and "Lost Like Tears In Rain", follows the same trend. "Open Your Eyes", is a very melodic song and is very catchy and like “Sleep Well Tonight”, it makes you want to sing along.
‘Relaxing’, would be the perfect word to describe next track, “Mono”. The song is the longest song on the album and also one of the best. It was also featured on "They Liked You Better When You Were Dead". The first four minutes, features clean riffs and calm vocals from Simpson and Westway. Following this, the song gets louder and features some brilliant guitar riffs. After this track, the shortest song on the album (excluding “To Sleep”), “Hazy Eyes”, was the last single to come off this album. Abidi’s drumming is brilliant here and overall, the song is very good and catchy. The next track, "Grand Unification Pt II", starts off with some piano and features a man talking about mankind and the universe. It’s quite a slow and emotional song, and features calm vocals from Simpson. After about two minutes, the song gets louder and Simpson belts out ‘Hold my hand until the waves come, the waves come, just hold my hand until the waves come around’. We then get to the last track, “Wake Up”, and it begins to make sense now why the first track was titled, “To Sleep”. It’s a very beautiful song and features outstanding vocals from both Simpson and Westway. Around the two minute mark, Simpson repeatedly sings the words ‘Wake Up’, which is quite addictive and makes you want to sing along. Towards the end of the song, it gets louder and Westway joins in and then it ends.
Fightstar’s debut album was an excellent effort which is often over-looked. The musicianship here is top notch and the band crafted a truly great album in the process. They might not always get the credit they deserve and Simpson (to some extent), may always stay in the Shadow of "Busted" (in some people’s eyes), but Fightstar are a better band in every possible way and in their own right, an outstanding band. I urge any fan of metal/rock to check this album out and give it a chance. This album was only the beginning of their greatness, and its successors, “One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours” and “Be Human”, are just as good, if not better.
Well thanks man, I think I can only review an album that I have a real history or a connection with. I just took a notion and decided to write it, funny that.
I was quite pleased with the MGS review and still am because like I said, there was only so much you could say about a game soundtrack compared to a music album, and I addressed all the important points in that review etc.
Anyway thanks again for the vote of confidence, nice one man.
Don't get me wrong on my using of your MGS review as an example - I think it was well-done (especially after the rewriting), but this is just so much better. The one thing I would criticize is that it probably borders a bit too closely on a track-by-track review, which should generally be avoided. Try to look for a more general theme in the album, and expand from there.
Nice review dude, this one is worthy of a pos, the only niggle I have is this line in the first paragraph:
"While Simpson was in this poor boy band with guitars (which comprised of him on guitar), he was merely suspended in a rut which limited what he could do as a musician"
I'm not sure about the bracketed section, I'd much prefer something like "While Simpson was playing guitar in this poor boy band..." but that might just be me being an ass. You should definitely keep reviewing though idk where you got this whole "reviewing isn't my thing" attitude from, you're 4 reviews in and improving hugely.
Well every review, no matter how good it is, has flaws and errors etc. The only thing I'm concerned about here is the length of it more less, but I'm pretty happy with this review.
Like I said - I think I can only review an album that I have a real history or a connection with. I just took a notion and decided to write it, funny that. I normally 'don't feel like' writing a review because I think I won't come up with convincing info and detail etc. Anyway thanks man.
Sorry mate, I always do that, I'm so forgetful. I really should start pos'ing before commenting. As for the length I personally have no qualms whatsoever (if you look at some of my reviews you'll see why lol) and I think longer reviews tell a better story than concise ones, that's just me though and the risk you run is that people won't read the whole thing, will just skim or, worst of all, will read only the intro and the conclusion (I usually put extra work into both to appease those who do just this).
One of my favourite albums. Mono is one of my favourite songs to drum to. Such a pounding emotional crescendo. Love it. I actually love Lost Like Tears In Rain. Powerful vocals and good lyrics. I don't know how anyone could possibly fail to love Grand Unification Part 1 as well but if i keep going on i'll write a review myself! :S
Good review. Covers the whole album and sums it up well!