Kingdom of the deaf...
Genre: traditional heavy metal
Having been associated more with progressive metal on their previous releases (I haven't heard their EPs, so I cannot verify this), Saffire offer up a collection of in-yer-face heavy metal tracks on their debut album "From Ashes to Fire".
Combining the heavy guitar riffage of traditional heavy metal and hard rock with the melodic choruses of AOR, Saffire's debut is bound to be a success in the circles of those rock fans who like their metal straight up and catchy. A good example of this is slightly Rainbow-inspired 'Freedom Call' which features one of those choruses that you cannot help but singing along to. another good example is the groove-fest that is 'End of the World', the chorus of 'a Symphony Unheard', or the chorus of 'The Betrayer's Fate' which musically reminds me a bit of Rainbow's 'Eyes of the World'.
Now, according to legend, Saffire originated as a progressive metal band. There certainly is a slightly progressive element on this otherwise straight up riff fest of a traditional metal album. Their more progressive side shows itself in 'Kingdom of the Blind' in the form of a progressive bridge, which is in an interesting contrast with the rest of the song, as it is more of a groovy heavy rocker. In fact, the progressive bridge is an ingredient that shows up repeatedly on the album, just check the keyboard solos in 'Freedom Call' or the otherwise heavy 'Modus Vivendi' and the bridge of 'The Betrayer's Fate' apparently taking clues from Rainbow's 'Gates of Babylon', 'Paralyzed' leans more towards progressive rock - with its Middle Eastern feel - without actually being an all out prog track. 'Say Goodbye' is a similar case.
In terms of both production and musicianship, the album does not let the listener down. There are plenty of blazing gutiar solos and harmonic twin guitars, and the songwriting also reflects skill and talent in that department. I should probably also hasten to act that, despite my Rainbow references, Saffire is by no means a Rainbow rip-off.
As a traditional heavy metal album with elements from both hard rock and progressive metal, without every being too cheesy or too quirky (or too progressive) for those listeners who just want music that rocks hard, "From Ashes to Fire" is the perfect fit. At the same time, those who like progressive metal will also find some satisfaction in identifying progressive elements that the masses might miss out on. This is definitely a very enjoyable album!