Back in 2005, Living Fire began as a project without a fixed lineup other than Luis Carlos on vocals and bass as he just wanted to make music and record to have music to listen to..never realizing that the lyrics in English would ever have an impact due to his accent. In 2011, the cd was recorded with the opening track “Jesus is Not Dead” and a couple of covers leading to the band signing to Thumper Punk Records in 2012. A couple of videos later and a couple of years, saw the band release Dead to Sin in 2014. Since then the band has released a couple more cd’s, Eternal Now in 2016 and Every Saint has a Past, Every Sinner has a Future in 2017, which saw the band veer away from a hardcore sound and more toward a Blink-182-like sound. During recording of Eternal Now, founder Luis Carlos shifted to only vocals and the band brought on Raphael Alcantara to handle bass duties and as a result of this change, the band suddenly had more creative input to their sound.
In full disclosure, I did like the band’s early material which was a bit more like melodic old-school hardcore and I pretty much lost interest in their more recent releases as the change in sound just didn’t fit into what I like to listen to. With The Flame Still Burns, if it wasn’t for Luiz Carlos’ distinctive vocals and tone, I would have thought it was a different band. So much more aggression and heavy, fast guitars and drums on this release. While their last one was more like Blink-182, I would put this one more toward bands like Downset and dare I say some hints of Sepultura. “Eternal Love” opens innocently enough with some howling wind and a crying baby but then Luiz Carlos comes in with a rap-like delivery and chunky guitar and bass riff with some gang vocals thrown in for good measure until the song shifts into a more melodic chorus section filled with some nicely layered in guitar leads. I get all sorts of influences showing up here, early TFK, POD, and the great funky bass work by Raphael Alcantara really helps bring the song along. Great start to the album and I did go back and check to make sure I had the right album playing.
“Not for Trade” sounds more like the Living Fire I remember from their early material at least in the beginning of the song , but it shifts to a tough NYHC-like sound before shifting back to more melodic and a brighter tone. I like the way the song alternates between the two styles and the guitars of Murillo Xavier perfectly enable the transitions between the chugging sections and the melodic, all of which are built on the solid foundation of Alacantara’s bass and Michel Oliveira’s pounding drums.
“07 x 07 x 07” opens up with a fast, heavy riff and Luiz Carlos’ shouting vocals over the top. This is one of the songs that would fit very nicely on a Downset album. The combination of the Luiz’s vocals with the backing gang vocals and again musically, this is a heavy, driving song that hardcore fans should love. “Prophesying” continues with the heaviness and channels a bit of a Korn/Sepultura vibe with respect to the bass and drum lines with the eerie guitar chiming almost in the background. “My Refuge” returns to the fast, heavy riff and drumming like heard on Downset albums and the combination of Luiz’s vocals in unison with the backing vocals work well and provide a nice contrast to the sections that Luiz handles on his own.
“Sem Meias Verdades” (No Half Truths) has the band going into more of a nu-metal rap like song done in Portuguese that has hints of Faith No More in some respects but more prominently features some heavy bass work by Alcantara and prominent scratching/effects with that eerie chiming guitar in the background to add some texture to the song. While in Portuguese and perhaps a bit dated in style, this song works as well.
The album closes out with “Life Instructions” which begins with clean guitars and melodic line and spoken verses in the beginning that brings to mind POD from the Satellite era before eventually turning heavier but maintaining the clean vocals. While not as musically intense as the rest of the album, the song works as a closing track and the scripture-based inspirational lyrics help relay the band’s beliefs.
Living Fire appear to have reinvented themselves and the newest incarnation of their sound is filled with heavy, fast guitars, pounding drums, solid vocal performances in a variety of styles and some great bass work to help tie it all together. While some of the sounds and song structures do hearken back to music of an earlier time that is fairly rare in today’s world, Living Fire throw such strong emotion and great performances into the effort that it works.
Written by John Jackson
1. Eternal Love 03:21
2. Not For Trade 02:53
3. 07 x 70 x 07 02:42
4. Prophesying 02:58
5. My Refuge 03:21
6. Sem Meias Verdades 04:01
7. Above Everything 02:26
8. Life Instructions 05:04
Luis Carlos (Vocals)
Raphael Alcantara (Bass)
Michel Oliveira (Drums)
Murillo Xavier (Guitar)
Release Date: March 22nd.2019
Record Label: Thumper Punk Records