CD Reviews

Two Fires - 'Burning Bright' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 24, 2010    
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Catchy songs, memorable melodies.

A band project initially conceived and put together about a decade or so ago, it’s fair to say that Two Fires caused quite a stir within the diehard AOR community reuniting as it did vocalist Kevin Chalfant and guitarist Josh Ramos; both of whom had previously been members of the criminally ignored Journey offshoot The Storm in the 90’s. Their eponymous debut (released in the spring of 2000) in many respects picked up from where The Storm left off with ‘Eye Of The Storm’ some five years earlier, and was rightly lauded as one of the best examples of pure, Journeyesque AOR released in years – and as for their debut appearance at The Gods, it still stands out as one of the most memorable I’ve ever seen.

Follow up release ‘Ignition’ emerged some two years down the line, and whilst the standard of songwriting had been more or less maintained, a conspicuously poor production begat a rather lacklustre sound which meant it had nowhere near the same impact as its predecessor. After the release of ‘Ignition’ and the largely indifferent response which followed, Chalfant and Ramos went their separate ways (sic), although both have retained a strong presence within the scene. Now, some eight years later Two Fires are back with album number three ‘Burning Bright’, although I suspect the first question on many lips will be ‘where the hell’s Josh Ramos?’

Yep, my first impression was that this was just a Kevin Chalfant ‘all stars’ release (well, maybe not quite ‘all stars’!) high in hype and low in quality, but having taken it for a number spins over the past couple of weeks, it turns out that there’s actually rather more substance to it than that. For starters, there’s thankfully no evidence of the aforementioned production problems which dragged ‘Ignition’ down ... quite the contrary in fact as the sound on ‘Burning Bright’ is much more in keeping with that which graced the debut.

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Then of course there are the songs. If pure Journeyesuqe AOR floats your boat, then Hugo aside, experience has shown that few are better at it than Chalfant, and so it proves to be the case once again. From emotive, heart wrenching ballads such as ‘Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid’ (written coincidentally with Neal Schon and Greg Rolie) or ‘Still In Love’, through brooding mid tempo cuts like ‘Epic In The Night’, to upbeat anthems akin to opener ‘Is It Any Wonder’ or ‘Hold On To Your Dream’, ‘Burning Bright’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Great vocals, superb technicianship and a joyous vibe throughout really do make this a joy to listen to.

No doubt there’s an element out there who will decry ‘Burning Bright’ as nothing more than AOR by numbers perpetrated by second rate rip off merchants desperate to grab a piece of the renewed interest in Journey. Granted it doesn’t offer anything we haven’t heard before, but to these ears the songs are catchy, the melodies memorable, and the delivery filled with the kind of style and panache one would associate with AOR back in the day. On that basis therefore, pretty much job done I’d say.


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