New to our ears, the debut album by German power metallers FATAL FIRE. Eight tracks that explode out of the speakers, FATAL FIRE bring very little new to the table. But in the world of power metal, the blueprint was set by the likes of Helloween, Iron Maiden and Gamma Ray over four decades ago. So expecting the wheel to be reinvented is probably a little unrealistic.

First listens are encouraging. This is a band who know how to deliver in their chosen genre, and they bring a flourishing confidence with some stellar musicianship that gets the blood flowing from the opening bars of first song Destruction. A feisty riff leads into a high tempo gallop, feeding dual guitar work which is a feature throughout the eight songs that feature. It’s our first opportunity to hear the vocals of singer Svenja Rohmann, whose soaring cleans are tempered by a rougher edge that is reminiscent of the Metal Queen Doro Pesch. Fast and frantic, FATAL FIRE blend some decent melodies above the racing pace that drives the song along.

In fact, there is little let up throughout. The band evidently draw from the twin guitar sound that forged such legends as Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, Maiden and Judas Priest, and they don’t hide their influences. One can’t help but tick off other bands who spring to mind as you listen to Arson, but that isn’t to say that it’s a rocky road that FATAL FIRE is travelling. No, not at all and once you get into the second track Ashes Remain, there’s reassurance that the band can vary their style, even if it’s not by a huge amount.

If you dislike the high energy delivery that power metal brings, then you’re not going to like Arson. It just won’t be your thing. As I said earlier, the traditional speed/power metal banner that has been taken up by the likes of Enforcer, Battle Beast, Unleash The Archers, and the UK’s Tailgunner is being held proudly aloft – this is a retro sound that sits in the 1980s but with a modern twist. But if you like or love this genre, then tracks like Dawn Of Fate and the thrashy Sea Of Damnation should get you nodding along furiously. It’s a genre that often brings the biggest smiles, for the bands play at such ridiculously high speeds. And yet, we have some of the best musicians around playing this music, and FATAL FIRE, who are still finding their way and crafting their style have players a plenty. Tim Kremer and Valentyn Subotovic are gifted fretboard wizards, whilst the engine room of Dennis Nerding on bass and drummer Till Felden do not miss a beat, holding everything rock steady whilst driving the songs forward with machine-like dynamism.

If there are any deficits within Arson, it would be that there is possibly too much reliance on the same format. It’s only a minor complaint, for the band have enough chops to bring it through, whilst the clever harmonies that thread through the songs to compliment Rohmann’s soulful vocals work well.

Arriving at the final two tracks, the blistering Kingslayer with its definitive Maiden duelling guitar work and the expansive change of pace on Ardent Wave, it’s possible that FATAL FIRE has held back the best til last. Ardent Wave certainly is the band’s epic track, and as a finale, it’s in exactly the right place. Plenty to enjoy here, and for a debut album, it is incredibly assured.

Paul Hutchings