Civil Protection - Stolen Fire - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Civil Protection - Stolen Fire

by Alexander Segall Rating:7 Release Date:2013-10-07

Civil Protection, a Yorkshire-based five-piece, have crafted a debut of leash-straining, cosmic-yearning ambition. From the quiet, portentious opener, to the final soaring guitars, what you have here is a trip down memory lane, to the build-and-release days of early-ish Mogwai, via some pit stops with Sigur Ros, Mono, and surprisingly, Nine Inch Nails. Bandleader, producer, guitarist and vocalist Adam Fielding has released a lot of electronic music, and studied musical production; both influences rear their heads on Stolen Fire, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

The first half follows a fairly well-worn template, with powerful guitars (three of them, to be precise), thrumming, heavy bass and lots of cymbal crashes exploding from twinklier, melodic sections, and the occasional low-mixed vocal. Scotland's loudest musical sons, as well as Japan's, have clearly influenced the approach, although there's never anything remotely atonal or white-noise-ish here. Structure, form and restraint all feature.

While there probably isn't a fear of letting go to the fullest extent of, say, 'Like Herod' or 'Com(?)', two of the touchstones of the genre, the band never fully explode. Unlike the sheer sonic assault of some truly extreme moments in the canon, the most heavy moment here really comes on the first proper song, 'My Memories Will Be Part of the Sky'. It goes for it, straight from the blocks, but never quite makes the stars it shoots for.

Following through the quieter moments of 'Alaska' and 'Many Moons Ago', the second half of the record, ushered in by another quiet linking track, shows Fielding's electronic side. Synths and drum machines introduce 'From the Parish to the Pavement', and the dirty, danceable beat continues more organically underneath the tremoloed guitars and distorted moments. It pays a heavy debt to Trent Reznor's tortured attacks on the ears, but married to the post-rock template, it shows a direction which could usefully be explored, one that does bleed into the other standout track, 'Redrawn'. Less rambling than its predecessor, this is groovier and much more accessible, even at a similar seven-minute length. Once it calms down, the pretty plucked guitars build to another release, cutting out for 'Monedula', a melancholic, moody piece.

The final track, 'Stolen Fire', is the closest song here to a pastiche, and while it sounds good (because after all, if you're going to sound very much like another band, you might as well sound a lot like Mogwai), it doesn't excite. The Promethean imagery seems to be a subtle dig at themselves - nicking the fire from the gods is precisely what happens here, with some pretty good results. There's nothing a little less restraint, and turning the dials up to 11, wouldn't improve.

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