Today, the news struck all of the Sputnik community. BoySetsFire have broken up, closing their musical doors forever after finishing their European tour. The band, going relatively unknown throughout their entire career, is a hidden gem in the post-hardcore world, never conforming and selling out to what producers and the mainstream want. The band, making music together for 12 years, toured relentlessly and let everyone know of their political stances. The band pioneered in their music, being one of the first bands to blend together melodic singing with hardcore screaming. The instrumental intensity always remained on an incredible high, displaying their anger and rage towards the world and its cruelties.
Nathan Gray- Vocals
Chad Istvan- Guitar, Backing Vocals
Josh Latshaw- Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rob Avery- Bass
Matt Krupanski- Drums and Percussion
In other words, that was a eulogy to BoySetsFire.
After the Eulogy finds BoySetsFire full of intensity and hope. The band is fully in their prime, given plenty of new political material after witnessing 9/11 and its consequences. The band puts out their most heart-felt, intense music on the album, showcasing the pure virtuosity of their songwriting talents. The riffing drives forward, pulsing along with the fantastic drumming laid out by Krupanski. Some songs delve in a more metal realm while other songs stick to a hardcore punk feel. Nathan Gray sings intently here, focused on conveying a message of fighting for what is right. His screaming grabs a hold of the listener's attention and never lets go, meshing his intensity and anger straight into his clean singing. The guitar work on the album stands out for being tight, accurate, and just sounding flat out cool. Some bands delve too much into rhythmic difficulties and forget that people need to be able to identify with the music. BoySetsFire realize this point, and while they certainly possess the talent to take their music to that level, they play challenging enough riffs that still sound identifiable to the ear. Rob Avery's bass work on the album is more than adequate, filling where the band needs it and playing down and under the guitars when needed. His tone is dark, full, and heavy; exactly what the music needs. Avery obviously uses a pick, but he is one of the few bassists that actually make the pick an advantage rather than a fault. Aside from Gray, the standout musician for the band is the drumming of Matt Krupanski. His drums are mixed perfectly, laying back for the slower attempts and flat out hammering the drums in the uptempo songs, driving the band forward in the incredibly fast tempos.
The hardcore punk songs, for sure, are the band's strong point. The band knows this, opening with the pulsating title track. The song opens with a protesting riot sample, chanting. Krupanski enters on the snare drum, playing a rhythm to accompany the chanting. After a huge hit, Gray screams "Rise!" and the band takes the intensity laid down by Nathan and puts out huge, driving riffs. Harmonics occur all over the place, adding a sense of anger and dissonance about the song. Suddenly, the song slows down a bit as Gray switches to clean vocals. The guitars fade out and the drums play on the high hat. Nathan gets a showcase for his screaming here, repeatedly screaming "Where's your anger? Where's your fu*king rage?" Some other band members scream under him as a guitar plays high up on the fretboard and the drums become more intense. The other guitarist plays a different riff, encompassing the entire range of the guitar. The song reverts back to the rise chant from earlier, and the band enters a rhythmic breakdown. The song fades out on this and suddenly, a short brass statement fades in to close out the song.
However, BoySetsFire still manages to create excellent cleaner songs. The Abominations of Those Virtuous opens with just Nathan singing in his crooning clean voice. A snare hit brings the rest of the band in, still playing with a punk energy, riffing somewhat indistinguishably, but still serving its purpose of bringing the song's energy up. Still maintaining that intensity, the song enters a half-time feel that somewhat grooves along. The guitars stay on a similar riff, which keeps energy going. The riff changes, having a bit of a lighter feel about it. Nathan strains a bit to reach his higher notes, although he sings high on pretty much the entire song. The song again reverts back to the punk feel, showing that BoySetsFire have no need for a typical song format to make a catchy song. As riffs and feels continue and change, the song enters a bit of a breakdown section, featuring Nathan and drums with occasional palm muted guitars. Slowly, the guitar becomes more and more complex before breaking out into a full out riff and the drums bring in a full drum beat. Nathan remains the showcase for the rest of the song, remaining clean and showcasing some of his best vocals ever. His lyrics tell the faults of people thinking they have the right to take control of everyone, in other words, big-headed leaders. He conveys a powerful message to them, telling them they have no right to tell him what to do. His writing conveys all this in an original way, never using cliche or overused lyrics.
Another hard-hitting song, Twelve Step Hammer Program, opens immediately with a drum and guitar rhythm and Nathan screaming "Bring it out!" The guitar riffs are some of the more complex on the album. The heaviness somewhat drops out as lead guitar plays a sort of 3 against 2 rhythm before resolving at the end of every 4 measures. The song follows a more typical song format, mastering a perfect climax into the chorus. Everything drops out except for Nathan holding a note, and then the rest of the band jumps into an incredibly evil and minor chord progression. The progression is somewhat of a lengthy progression, jumping around to all kinds of chords. The song immediately jumps back into the verse like section, although a bit different this time, having a full band statement in the middle of the verse. Again, even with a generic song format, BoySetsFire manages to create their own original style, placing something completely new in the middle of the riff. Following the second chorus, the song enters a whole new section, an insanely well-written headbanging moment. Most similar bands would close the song after the held note following this section, but BoySetsFire are not finished yet. A new, grooving riff comes in, with the drums playing with a halftime feel, being more climatic than the well executed chorus. The song closes out on guitar feedback and suddenly, a gunshot.
That gunshot later took out the band with the pressure of record labels, their own desires, and their profound hold on their destiny. BoySetsFire will always remain one of the unsung heroes in post-hardcore music, hopefully having a Van Gogh miracle now that the band has dismembered. The 12 year career of the band will not be forgotten, especially by this community here and anybody who likes bands such as Rise Against.
After the Eulogy
The Abominations of Those Virtuous
(Compassion) As Skull Fragments on the Wall
Twelve Step Hammer Program