|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: US|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website: Static Fuse|
|Tracks: 7||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 31:45|
Static Fuse represents a joining of guitarist Ian Keith Hafner and vocalist “Redd” Sonia Sauruk. Hafner is quite the veteran in the hard music scene, having gained acclaim for his work in “shock metal” acts Holy Riot and Angry Little Freak but also performing and recording with the post-grunge groups Asphyxia and Scrub and alternative rockers Outta The Belly. Redd Sonia has stayed busy as well. Getting started in the late eighties with the Christian rock band Straight Street, Sonia recently recorded several songs for the My Darkest Time project of Macedonian musician Zarko Atanasov in addition to working with other Macedonian artists Noverim, The Richy Project, Aleksander (D.J.Vele) and Risto Apostolov.
The fall of 2008 finds Ian and Sonia presenting with the self-titled debut of the classic Christian metal project Static Fuse. The key words are “classic Christian metal” in that Static Fuse brings an old school metal and hard rock vibe – heavily influenced by the eighties – certain to appeal to fans of Bride, Whitecross, Holy Soldier, X-Sinner, Rez Band and a host of others from the same era. Those into female fronted groups such as Barnabas, Ransom, Scarlet Red and Arsenal will find a lot to like in Static Fuse as well.
Catchy hooks prevail here. This riff driven “Stop Throwing Stones” and mega-melodic “Faith, Hope And Love” showcase this best while the commercial ballad “Dreaming” and upbeat hard rocker “A Better Life” deserve mention as well. The semi ballad “Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten” brings a touch of the acoustic and bluesy “Faded Glass” a relaxed and laid back setting.
Redd Sonia might reflect the influence of contemporaries Christine Steel (Arsenal) and Lisa Faxson (Ransom) but brings her own unique approach to the lead vocalist position. I might describe her style as full of heart and soul but exhibiting a ton of projection in the process. In other words, to say that Sonia has a set of lungs would be an understatement. “Stop Throwing Stones” and “Faith, Hope And Love”, for instance, find her displaying the full range to her voice while she cuts loose in more moving fashion on “Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten” and “Dreaming”.
Hafner proves quite the underrated guitarist. He can deliver some great hard rocking riffs – “Stop Throwing Stones” and “A Better Life” come to mind – and cut loose with some tasteful lead guitar as well (check out “Faith, Hope And Love”). But what ultimately sets the project apart is the bluesy side to Hafner’s playing, as found on “Faded Glass” and “Dreaming”, two tracks which cannot help but bring to mind Christine Steele’s Peace Child demo. The bluesy instrumental “Blues At Dusk”, of course, deserves mention as well.
Production values, on the slightly raw side of things, are competent for an independent release. Yes, a touch of polish would have helped out here; that said, no overriding muddiness prevails over the mix either.
Packaging is a bit bare bones, consisting of a single page insert and with no lyrics. The exclusion of lyrics, capably written by Sonia, is particularly disappointing when considering this is one of the projects strengths. That said, you will find the lyrics available at the groups MySpace profile.
Up-tempo album opener “Stop Throwing Stones” is carried its distance by a guitar riff that just won’t quite: driving, nasty and right in your face- the way it should be. Hafner, for a lack of better words, hits the literal nail on the head. Sonia stands out as well, putting forth her trademark soulful and passion filled delivery, particularly during the songs incisive chorus (very solid hook here). “Stop Throwing Stones” talks about exactly that:
Stop pointing your finger
And mind your own business
Don’t judge me; judge yourself
And stop throwing stones…
“Faith, Hope And Love” delivers quite the abundant melody. Slower in tempo when compared to “Stop Throwing Stones”, the song starts acoustically before launching into its catchy chorus once the rhythm guitar cuts in. As “Faith, Hope And Love” moves ahead, it highlights touches of polished vocal harmonies along with a tenacious run of lead guitar. This one is aptly named:
And no matter
How many times I’ve fallen on my face
You’ve shown me Your mercy
And everlasting grace
Faith, hope and love…
“Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten”, a faith based semi ballad, advances acoustically from the start only to head in a rhythm guitar driven direction upon reaching its emotionally charged chorus:
No I’m not forsaken
No, I’m not forgotten
No I’m not forsaken
He holds me in the palm of His hands
Putting things over the top is Hafner’s riveting lead guitar, steeped in the blues while exuding a ton of emotion, which perfectly complements the mood of the music here.
“Faded Glass” represents the albums slowest and most laid back piece. Almost bluesy in feel, the song flows its length acoustically with a touch of organ highlighting the backdrop. But the main treat, however, is how “Faded Glass” fades out over its final minute and a half to its captivating chorus as Hafner wails away on his bluesy lead guitar. The mood projected almost brings to mind Bride’s “Sweet Louise” (off Kinetic Faith). “Faded Glass” is a song of faith:
Once my life was a blank space
Feeling so out of place
Not seeing beyond my past
Like looking through a faded glass
I’m looking for some comfort to come
And I’m looking to the only One
To take the sorrows and the sadness and shame
To make me wholehearted again
“A Better Life” presents a determined vibe with its hard charging rhythm guitar sound. The song almost comes across mesmerizing with the non-stop hook to its chorus but does not peak until its final minute when momentum picks up for more knife edged lead work. Short but energetic, “A Better Life” brings some much needed upbeat impetus to the albums final half. The message here is straightforward and direct:
I’ve come to give you joy
I’ve come to give you peace
I’ve come to give you life
A better life…
The haunting ballad “Dreaming” ranks with the albums finest pieces. The song gradually drifts through its first minute to a crisp acoustic guitar, not picking up in pace until the rhythm guitar steps forward to drive an emotionally charged chorus that borders on the commercial in capacity. Heartfelt performance from Sonia adds to what I might describe as a worshipful environs. Hafner, of course, steps to the plate with one of his trademark runs of bluesy lead guitar. A statement of faith is made on this one:
You have spoken to prophets so long ago
And I’m wondering why You choose me
Even though times I feel so blind I can’t see
Though You’re always there helping, guiding me
And I feel so weak, helpless, lost, confused
Would you give a sign to me is my plea
Before I run and hide from
You’re calling me
Closing things out is the blues drenched instrumental “Blues At Dusk”. This one has Glenn Kaiser Band written all over it. As a matter of fact, I keep expecting Glenn Kaiser to step forward at some point with his scratchy voice- even though this is an instrumental. Another aspect to the song is how it is played with so much feeling; it almost brings to mind “Lost Soul” by the UK hard rock outfit 100% Proof (from Power And The Glory) in that regard. I also enjoy how pronounced the bass is mixed, perfectly underlining the disconsolate rhythm guitar- all the while adding just the right touch of the moody.
Fans of old school metal and hard rock are certain to enjoy Static Fuse as are those into hard rock with a bluesy edge. Each track stands on its own – Static Fuse does not include any filler – while the performances from Ian Keith Hafner and Redd Sonia represent strengths as well. Highly recommended.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Stop Throwing Stones” (5:00), “Faith, Hope And Love” (4:13), “Not Forsaken, Not Forgotten” (4:31), “Faded Glass” (5:00), “A Better Life” (3:10), “Dreaming” (6:54), “Blues At Dusk” (2:49)
“Redd” Sonia Sauruk – Lead Vocals
Ian Keith Hafner – Guitars & Bass