Wow, what a fantastic surprise. Hello=Fire‘s heavy, dramatic, bombastic single, “Angle To See”, released in 2013 for Record Store Day and recently promoted by Schnitzel Records, represents a near-180 degree turn from the melodic, varied rock and pop heard on 2009’s eponymous debut.
Hello=Fire mainman Dean Fertita‘s tenure in The Dead Weather as a key songwriter and purveyor of loud riffs seems to have had a lasting effect. Something got into this man’s system, and has unleashed a rock beast. With only faint nods to melody in the choruses, the catchy musical backbone of “Angle To See” speaks to our darker side. Vague, foreboding, ominous, and dark, this guitar-friendly tune entrenches itself in inky hard rock territory.
Nicely balanced and well produced, “Angle To See” could be an out-take from prior recording sessions. Deliberately left loose, it’s delightfully just a little bit feral, scruffy, or ragged around the edges. While this song’s music bears foundational similarities to The Dead Weather’s “Die By The Drop”, both the character and timbre of Fertita’s vocoder-infused voice as well as the lyrical bent change it’s direction.
Featuring a monstrously heavy, delay-saturated and overdriven riff, “Angle To See” draws inspiration from older classic rock, protoplasmic blues, desert rock, and doom metal in equal measure. Uptempo, with a nicely mechanical groove and repeating motif, the foundation is solid, right from the outset, with a bass guitar lead. Dynamic, well-layered, and meticulously arranged, the song has two dramatic pauses which feature some kind of house or rave beats, as if those were breaks in the clouds – where he’s finally glimpsed the other’s life or perspective. More glances are afforded listeners through emphatic, insistent, and enjoyable guitar overlays and trills. Subtle synth overlays break through the heft of the guitar’s fizzy distortion. Unrestrained, melodic vocal lines are set to soar over the underlying rhythmic division of the tune, freeing them from what might otherwise hold them fast. By rendering the lyrical and musical divisions independent of eachother, Fertita is free to present his words as prosaically as he wishes.
What a jarring, fun sonic adventure to have undertaken. “Angle To See” isn’t a crushing death metal ditty, but it’s a few galaxies removed from the debut’s gentle “Nature of Our Minds”, and at least a solar system distant from the fast-paced, punk-infused “Mirror Each Other”. What’s so striking is how much melody and pleasantry got scrapped in favor of the clenched-fist heaviness.
For listeners who won’t tolerate pop-rock’s “nonsense”, favoring their music dark and heavy, the three-minutes-and-change “Angle To See” is wonderful to encounter lurking in the shadows. If this represents a one-off, a reimagination, or a new direction for Hello=Fire, remains yet to be known. Songs like this breed anticipation. Fans can only wait to hear what’s in store.
The limited edition Record Store Day 2013 vinyl, which also contains the Moistboyz‘ “Paperboy”, is available through discogs.com.