This Florida based quintet have got quite a debut full length on their hands. Ekotren has a wide variety of music on Light The Fire, ranging from commercial radio friendly songs to hardcore mosh pit ready anthems. As talented as these dudes are I feel a bit conflicted and confused after each subsequent listen. I love the heaviness that they showcase on this disc, yet can’t quite get into the more melodic songs that dominate — and will surely sell albums. Despite my own trepidations, Ekotren do a phenomenal job mixing the two ends of their musical entity well among the albums tracks.
Vocalist John Sheldon is a talented front man and a bit of a breathe of fresh air with regards to his delivery. He has the ability to hit melodic notes, carry a tune well and yet still have the ability to blind side with ferocious barks and shouts. Guitarist Keith Finnell sets up Sheldon well with some pretty punishing riffs yet is capable of catchy hooks and leads. The rhythm section, comprised of bassist Derek DeSantis and drummer Eric Pottle, create the base of the band’s sound with heavy handed drum work and plenty of groove.
Light the Fire
The title track opens up with a bit of chaos thanks to some overlaid sound clips before a catchy riff gets the album off to a heavy start. Sheldon’s delivery is gruff and flowing, but he showcases his ability to hit higher end screams and guttural growls. This one also carries with it a catchy chorus and melodic backing vocals.
The second song on this debut release starts off with a bit of keyboard work courtesy of Steve Chin before another catchy bit of riffing and drum work come into play. There are a few nicely timed tempo changes throughout this one as Sheldon showcases his vocal capabilities with cleanly sung vocals and gruff hardcore shouts and screams.
“Become” sees a bit of a shift in the bands sound as they transition through the songs and into the more melodic elements on Light The Fire. There is plenty of heaviness yet the band utilizes their more melodic elements to great effect throughout. As cheesy as it is, I absolutely love the chorus on this one — layered vocals are used real well on this one. For as melodic as the band gets on this track there are still moments of sheer aggression and anger.
Tables Have Turned
This next track is apparently from one of their earlier EPs and has a hell of a groove to it. This one hits hard and has plenty to look forward to on subsequent listens. It’s also got the feel of a few of the tracks from Diecast’s Tearing Down Your Blue Skies thanks to producer Paul Trust. There are some nice keyboard and lead interplay in the second half of this song.
“Tranquilized” sees the band forgo their simpler and heavier side for the most part and focus more on melodies and more rock oriented sound. This one has radio hit written all over it.
This one starts off aggressively with a large riff and extended scream from Sheldon. Mixing their heaviness with more melodies they’ve got a great track on their hands with “Nothing Left.” The band slows it down a bit at the 1:30 mark before introducing a nice rock fueled riff and melodic vocal work before shifting into breakdown mode with screams and beefy riffing.
A catchy riff starts this one off nicely as the band softens their approach, bringing in a sound that would easily fit on early Finger Eleven releases. It’s a nice song that I could see garnering the band some air time on local radio.
Background drumming and electronica noise start this one off as the drums shift to the forefront with some nice guitar work. This track shifts from pop friendly choruses to beefy, hardcore attacks within the span of a few short minutes. It’s an interesting track that juxtaposes the band’s different dynamics into an interesting confrontation. Because of that, I can’t seem to get enough of it.
Point of View
“Point of View” starts out with some interesting keyboard work and riffing before Sheldon shows up with a huge scream, bringing in heavy metalcore guitar work. The band immediately slows it down to light guitar work and softer vocal delivery. Man, these guys shift their tempos and sound well leaving the lighter stuff behind them to hit heavy with bone crushing breakdowns and drum work.
Needed You More
Light guitar work starts off this next song as Sheldon sings with a clean delivery. This is one of those songs that high school girls would wet themselves over when it comes on their bedroom stereos. Good for Ekotren for throwing it into the mix as I’m sure that given the right marketing could definitely sell more than a few albums for them all on its own.
The final track starts off with crickets and other farm sounds as a huge riff and driving drums fade in with a hell of a scream on Sheldon’s part. Thank god these guys decided to make up for that sappy last song with a track that has some balls.