Smoke Or Fire
The Speakeasy


1.5
very poor

Review

by SowingSeason EMERITUS
November 8th, 2010 | 19 replies | 7,221 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Good Lord this is bland.

Smoke or Fire has never been a flashy group – they have always created simple, straightforward punk. In an era where the true essence of the genre seems to be dissipating (we have punk rock, pop punk, and seemingly hundreds of other derivative styles), Smoke or Fire has stood unwavering in its roots. They pound away frantically at the drums, blast sharp and often uninformed accusations at the government, and do their best to keep the riffs coming. Unfortunately, their loyalty to “good ol’ punk” doesn’t serve the declining genre as much as one might hope on their third studio album, The Speakeasy.

The main problem with The Speakeasy is that it is boring. This may seem like a very general (maybe even unfair) statement, but it is the most accurate way to describe the band’s combination of repetitive chords, unvarying drumming techniques, and monotone vocals. Punk has never been about award-winning vocal range, but McMahon provides us with no variation, no change-up, and absolutely no hint of excitement. The instrumental performances, for the most part, follow suit. The only thing the guitars and drums seem to be doing is establishing a pace…and they don’t often deviate from that goal. In fact, Smoke or Fire seems to keep everything the same from one song to the next – from the pacing to the general song structure. They do manage to slow things down on tracks like “Neon Light” and “Honey I Was Right About the War”, but unfortunately these instances only accentuate the aforementioned weaknesses as McMahon’s wails and the band’s overall lack of ideas have no place to hide.

To give credit where it is due, The Speakeasy does a couple of things right. Although the guitar riffs are generally lackluster, they do set up some very nice solos. Specifically, “Neon Light” and “Shotgun” contain some very intriguing ones, even if they are short lived. “Expatriate” opens with fast-paced picking and attention-grabbing drum fills, making it one of the most interesting songs on the album from a technical perspective. The Speakeasy also gets better as the album progresses, and it shows undeniable improvement in the band’s overall execution of their frantic punk sound. The riffs get chunkier and more lively, and the drumming finally starts to sound purposeful. However, the dry vocals continue to plague the album, even when the instrumental aspects show some promise. In the same vein, a lack of interesting hooks and memorable choruses weigh The Speakeasy down from start to finish. Despite its momentary flashes of hope, the album is just too strongly anchored down by bland vocals and bland song structures.

In the end, what we have is a punk album that lacks skilled instrumental components and isn’t very catchy. It is certainly lively, but this arises out of the album’s frantic pace more than it does from fresh ideas. The whole thing is rather unmemorable, aside from the possibility that you might look back in regret on the time you spent listening it. Smoke or Fire deserve props for sticking to their roots, but their overabundant shortcomings on this record make The Speakeasy a failed effort musically, conceptually, and probably also commercially.



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user ratings (9)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

http://www.spinner.com/new-releases#/14

for those interested in enjoying this "awesome" punk album

yeah so if anyone asks im going back to my current rotation of Great Northern and Porcupine Tree, now they are worth my time

Cesar
November 8th 2010



2732 Comments


If this review is true I will be extremely disappointed. Their other albums aren't amazing, but they showed nice potential.

Satellite
November 8th 2010



19878 Comments


that bad, huh? i've never really found them as interesting as most of their counterparts tbh.

good review sowing

Digging: The Menzingers - Rented World

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

the singer is god-awful. if you can get past his voice then there is potential.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

also, who's eric? confusing sowingseason and seaanemone ftw

Satellite
November 8th 2010



19878 Comments


their lead singer did a split with brendan kelly of the lawrence arms and his side was pretty meh.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010



7011 Comments


Solid review Sowing. Simple, to the point, and - most of all - effective. I'll stay away from this one =)

Satellite
November 8th 2010



19878 Comments


oh man, i suck. i don't have my contacts in.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

haha thanks for the comment edit satellite

irving, thanks i know this isn't very long i just find it hard to go write long reviews for albums i don't like. except for good charlotte, that review was epic.

oh and irving (everyone else too for that matter) go listen to Great Northern they have like 4 ratings on this site and they're delicious

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010



7011 Comments


Great Northern? Ok will give them a go =) Thanks for the heads-up Sowing!

Looking at you flow through making reviews makes me go ARGH cause I haven't reviewed for sooo long - I am jealous of your time management. I hate schoolwork I hate schoolwork I hate schoolwork.

Also, how did the mixtape thing go? You off the market already? Haha

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

nah buddy i haven't given it to her yet - she also hasn't gotten the CD.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010



7011 Comments


Gotcha. Good luck with that then.

And don't forget to name one of your kids after me.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 8th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

IrvingSeason? Jk my name isn't Sowing Season...if only...

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010



7011 Comments


Yeah I had a hunch your last name wasn't really Season...I'm still deliberating whether your first name is Sowing though.

Haha =)

tom79
November 9th 2010



3347 Comments


I've been meaning to get into this band for a while but for some reason I've always thought I would be getting another generic fat wreck band. I don't know what that means really but I'm not surprised to see the rating is low...Probably won't check out this band anytime soon.

Digging: Bent Outta Shape - Stray Dog Town

SowingSeason
Emeritus
November 9th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

well this is somewhat outside my genre, and i am not too familiar with the label. but i have heard good punk before, and this was just uneventful and a chore to get through

kenti123
December 11th 2010



120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album was good

iamnot
December 19th 2010



73 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ouch.
i thought it was good..

SowingSeason
Emeritus
December 30th 2010



14512 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I thought this was boring as shit, sorry guys : /



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