“What does it stand for?”
That’s one of the first questions Indianapolis-based three piece metal/alternative band, FS, is likely to get from new fans. The answer? It’s up to you!
“The name, FS, is sort of open to interpretation. It originally started because [two of our members] are certified pyrotechnicians, so it stood for “fire starters.” But we like to leave it open ended and to the imagination of the listeners.”
The band includes Jake Golob (guitar/backup vocals), Randy Fox (drums), and Corey Keller (bass/lead vocals), who have been playing together for about a year, since their first performance at a benefit show for a burned dog.
FS recently finished recording and producing their demo in mid May, and DIY-ed it from top to bottom, with the majority of the production done by Randy.
Overall, the demo shows a lot of potential in terms of musical talent and passion. Although I am a huge fan of DIY artists, I think a future single/EP/album release or re-release of these tracks could definitely do with some professional help with recording, mixing, and mastering to make it sound polished. In today’s music world, every little thing counts. Even if music is amazing, it has to be recorded in a way that flatters it, or audiences will likely move on to something else that may not be better, but does have better quality of production. While I admire FS’s musicality and dedication to DIY, I would strongly recommend recording with a professional in the future.
The first track of the demo is titled “Can Crusher.” With textured, scratchy guitar riffs and throaty vocals, the track is perfect for Metallica fans: It’s easy to hear the band’s influence, but FS has made the style their own. The vocals could be higher in the mix, as it’s hard to hear some of the lyrics, but the instrumentals are practiced and steady, simple in a way that allows the song to flow through its 2:20 running time.
“Your Love” has a scratchiness to its recording that could be cool if adjusted, but is a bit distracting during the portions of the song without vocals. The guitar riffs are interesting and familiar in a way that makes it pleasantly rub-less, allowing for easy enjoyment. Some of the production levels are off, especially during the picking solo, but the solo is fun and energetic. In terms of lyrics, “Your Love” takes the form of a classic breakup song, taking the point of view of a scorned lover who thinks their ex is “a waste of time” and decides “I don’t need you now.”
The basslines of “Tiger Blood” are dark and twangy, some of my favorite sounds that the bass guitar can produce. They set the tone for the track, joined by crackling guitar tones that add a bit to the higher end, but also build on what the low parts have to offer. The drum beats are simple, but steady, below the other instrumentals, the quietest part of this mix. The vocals are brittle and strained with interesting phrasing to go with the instrumental parts.
The lighter touch of “Ashes to a Fire” is refreshing change for the ears after the heaviness of the previous tracks, but the track sounds a bit empty and off in a way that’s hard to describe. It doesn’t sound as practiced as the rest of the tracks of the demo, with awkward vocal phrasing that could definitely be adjusted to flow better with the instrumentals. Alone, each of the instrumental parts are good, but they don’t match, leaving a stilted feeling at the end of the track. The guitar solo of “Ashes to a Fire” was the highlight of the song, where everything seemed to finally mesh together how it was originally intended to. “Ashes to a Fire” isn’t my favorite track of the demo.
The instrumentals to “Go to Sleep” were much more organized, and brought back the classic Metallica feel of the first track in the song’s phrasing and overall vibe. The bassline is fun and interesting, and while the guitar feedback is a bit distracting, the guitar part matches well with the rest of the track. The song as a whole is well-written and spunky. Although “Go to Sleep” is far from a lullaby, it is a good track from FS’s demo.
The tension in the instrumentals of “Home Improvement” makes for an exciting listening experience. As the song builds up to the relief of the chorus, the dark melodies of the guitar and bass blend together well to create interesting tautness. The chorus does drag at points when compared to the verses, which are much more dynamic. The lyrics are hard to hear in the mix, but the vocal tones are well-matched to the instrumentals.
“This is America” is the final song of the demo, and one of my favorites. The drum parts are some of the best of the demo. They bring a contagious energy to the track, giving it an urgency that matches well with its message that America isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be: “This is America / Where we love to hate…Going broke just to survive… / Taking parents away from their kids / This is America / Where we love to hate….” Acknowledging the issues with the place we live is an important job that many musicians choose to ignore, instead opting for uncontroversial, easy-listening music. FS should be given a lot of credit for honoring the original message of rock: Call out what you see wrong with the world, and rebel in a way that’s beautiful and impossible to ignore! “This is America” is the perfect track to round out FS’s demo.
FS has quite a few shows planned for the near future. Although their popularity is building in Ohio, FS is currently unsigned, and their goal is to take the project as far as it can go: “We’re not in this just to jam. We want to bring our music to the masses.”
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