Review Summary: Children Of Fire shows that Oh, Sleeper are not content with being just another metalcore band, and though they haven't entirely broken the mold, Children Of Fire is a solid album that can stand with the best.
The first thing you see on the cover of Children Of Fire looks evil, satanic even. But don't let that fool you; if you take a closer look, you can see that it is another of Oh, Sleeper's well thought out use of imagery. In fact, its the same symbol used on their previous album, Son Of The Morning.
Years ago, Oh, Sleeper released their acclaimed debut, When I Am God, and while not groundbreaking, the band executed it very well and songs like Vices Like Vipers and Charlatan's Host became crowd favorites. Their sophomore release, Son Of The Morning, was made to be more streamline, with shorter, more intense songs, as well as being their first concept album. In my opinion, it didn't deliver as well as When I Am God, but the concept of God vs Satan proved to be a good foundation for Micah's creative lyrics. Children Of Fire is a continuation of that concept; right after God "cut off" the horns of Satan, they disappear, leaving people wondering what happens next.
And Oh, Sleeper tells what happens next, with fury and passion that should roar through the sleeping metalcore scene. That is one thing that Oh, Sleeper always seemed to have, but even more so on this album. Passion. The emotion in Micah and Shane's voices is very apparent on songs like "Hush Yael", "The Marriage Of Steel And Skin", and "Means To Believe". And the lyrics sung while conveying that emotion is equally deep - "We are all weavers at the loom of slaughter, but we will rise and make these victims our martyrs"; my personal favorite. Oh, Sleeper is a Christian band, but even non-Christians will understand and be encouraged/enraged by the strong lyrics.
On the music side, Oh, Sleeper also delivers, though not with the same quality as the lyrics (which is hard to top). The music is normally chaotic, though controlled, something not very common in metal. And they succeed fairly well, though somewhat at the expense of diversity. Oftentimes, you hear the rhythm guitar playing a riff with the lead shredding, and though it's good, it can get repetitive. The bass, unfortunately, is nearly inaudible... Though the few times you can notice it, it's decent. The drumming is really well done, matching the chaotic nature of Micah's voice and the guitar, though overshadowed by them as well. The two acoustic (gasp!) tracks are also well executed, Shane's voice is not whiny like many clean vocalists in metalcore; that couldn't be said several years ago with the release of When I Am God. He has gotten much better, technique-wise and tone-wise, and is one whom I won't get tired of listening to.
That brings me to the end of my review - Children Of Fire shows that Oh, Sleeper are not content with just surviving, they want to excell. While not quite there yet musically, the lyrics are powerful and passionate and both vocalists have strong voices (though Micah's voice hasn't changed much, but that is probably a good thing). I highly recommend this album to metalcore and Oh, Sleeper fans. The title track pretty much sums up the album - good musicianship, strong vocals singing and screaming, and passionate lyrics that put many other bands to shame.
Other songs to look out for: The Marriage of Steel And Skin, displays that chaos that I mentioned earlier with a very strong outro; The Conscience Speaks, more of an interlude than a song, this one minute acoustic track showcases Shane's range; The Family Ruin, also showcases some of Shane's vocals, though in a much heavier setting. It has a slow tempo but is a track that shows a lot of the good qualities of the band that I mentioned in the review.