New beginnings are something that can be tough, especially when it comes to an established band. For Omaha’s Through Fire, the decision to close the book on what was Emphatic’s impressive career was anything but an easy one. For fans of the band in their previous incarnation, fear not because their sound doesn’t differ much from what we’ve heard in the past. Whereas Emphatic was heavily rooted in a more metal sound, Through Fire finds itself more in the realm of active rock. With new members, a more refined sound and a lot of great material to work with… it wasn’t long until they found labels knocking at their doors. Sumerian Records was the one that took them under their wing, at the top of 2016 and they hit the ground running. After the release of their debut album Breathe, they toured with Nonpoint and Sick Puppies, quickly re-establishing themselves in the scene. They re-recorded a version of their breakout hit, “Stronger” that ended up peaking at #29 on the Billboard singles chart… an impressive feat for any band but especially for a band that worked to build such a loyal following over the years. A little under a year later, the band have decided to release a deluxe edition of the album which includes 5 new tracks: extended and acoustic versions of “Stronger” and “Breathe” as well as a cover of Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.”
The original version of the album,10 tracks, included 9 original tracks (including an intro track titled “Reborn) and a cover of Ellie Goulding’s electropop anthem, “Lights.” The breathtaking title track, no pun intended, “Breathe” has reached #16 on the billboard charts and continues to climb, the longer it’s in rotation. New vocalist Grant Kendrick finds himself adequately filling the shoes of his predecessor, Toryn Green (late-era Fuel) and brings a certain energy back into the band with these new tracks. Memorable guitar harmonies are created throughout the album by founder/guitarist Justin McCain and Jesse Saint, who have honed their crafts to a sharp point. Drummer Patrick Mussack began to find his place within the band with 2013’s Another Life, his first with the band but he really opens up and shines throughout the duration of Breathe.
Covering a song can be done for many different reasons. Maybe you have a connection to that song, maybe you find it fun or maybe you just want a challenge for yourself, outside of writing your own material. Whatever the case it was for their covers of “Lights” and “Jar of Hearts,” they passed with flying colors. Kendrick’s gritty vocal style, along with a heavier style of music have truly molded these into something that they can call a Through Fire cover. Simultaneously, they do a wonderful job of keeping just enough of the original to make it something that fans will instantly recognize as their respective artists works.
Something I loved, from the moment I saw it on the track list, is that they re-recorded one of my all-time favorite Emphatic songs. This one, from their major label debut as Emphatic and title track from that album called “Damage” has a new life breathed into it with Kendrick’s vocals, along with an edgier tone and a heavier vibe to it, overall… you can truly tell that the band finally found the way they wanted this song to sound in the first place.
I can’t understand the appeal of putting a radio edit of a song on a full album and not putting the original, extended cut on the original album’s release. So, when I heard the first version of this album, before it was re-released… that was one thing that truly bugged me about it but I’m sure the band and the label had their reasons for that. However, with the deluxe edition, you finally get to hear the original, extended and explicit version of “Stronger.” In addition to that, you get a striking acoustic rendition of that track, as well as the title track… both of which sound beautiful in this way.
Whether you had a chance to check out the original version of Breathe or my review is your first venture into the band’s new form, the deluxe edition of Breathe has something that everyone will enjoy. The physical version comes with all 15 tracks, a guitar tab and alternate artwork. If you haven’t had a chance to dive into this album, do yourself a favor and pick it up, out on Sumerian Records tomorrow, April 7th! Also, be sure to catch them on tour with Seether, Festival dates and more… starting on April 15th (full dates below!)
“Stronger” (Official Music Video)
“Breathe” (Official Music Video)