Review Summary: Less than two years since their debut, The Safety Fire deliver an album with arguably more force and emotion showcasing maturing songwriting and continuing promise for the future.
Less than two years between albums seems like a bad idea when dealing with music as technical as the UK-based band The Safety Fire produce. Certain assumptions can be made: primarily that the sounds, tones, and emotions could be far too similar to their debut, "Grind the Ocean." Luckily, the band has eluded the possible pitfalls and delivered an album with arguably more force and emotion than their last.
Insane polyrhythms, sweeps, and solos abound just as before, but now are not just limited to the guitarists; drummer Calvin Smith and bassist Lori Peri, make their presence known, together, especially in 'Yellowism.' This time, some different influences make their way into the new sound; most apparent are nods to Gojira and Between the Buried and Me. The seventh track, 'The Ghosts That Wait For Spring,' begins immediately reminiscent of the former band’s signature sludgy plodding. The latter band is featured more directly with a guest appearance from vocalist and keyboardist Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. in a song that might not be out of place on a BtBaM album.
A common criticism of their first album stemmed from singer Sean McWeeney’s vocal performance. While many of the melodies and vocal patterns of "Grind the Ocean" return, McWeeney has made great strides in softening his cleans and rounding the edges of his harshes, making his vocal performance less abrasive and more enjoyable. There are even some rather surprising and welcome vocal harmonies throughout, best displayed in 'Beware The Leopard (Jagwar).'
"Mouth of Swords" is paced well over its 46 minutes. The twisting nethers of instrumentality found within, save for the lone breath, 'Wise Hands,' are balanced with jazzy moments and sonic builds that emphasize the punishing nature of the band and create a steady rise and fall, clench and release throughout. The songs are varied and no longer seem overly similar as they did in "Grind the Ocean," though there is certainly a case for centerpiece 'Red Hatchet' being mistaken for a lost B-side from that album.
Make no mistake, however, that though this album and level of production from The Safety Fire might at first seem hastily delivered, upon listening to "Mouth of Swords" you will discover that the band is already maturing mightily in songwriting and show even more promise for the future.