Imagine your friend had an extra ticket to the B-52s. They're playing somewhere nice and sweet like the PNC Art Center on the New Jersey Parkway. You wear your khaki Gap shorts, your comfiest J-Crew denim cap, an old Sheryl Crow t-shirt and sun block with an SPF rating of 15. You arrive in your friend's Volkswagen Jetta, wait on line for a seven-dollar bottled water and head for the stage oh, but not so close to the band and not so far; the middle feels just right. What's that you smell? Chiba? Shame on you, Mr. Mid-life-crisis hippy man! As the PA system plays 80's New Wave favorites you look skyward to appreciate the cloudless, cobalt blue afternoon. But wait is it your J-Lo Versace shades, or is the sky turning blood red; and the sun isn't supposed to be black, right?
You hear a scream. The PA system belches ear shredding feedback. You cover your ears and look toward the stage. What's that? WHAT THE is that a twelve foot tall winged demon with Kate Pearson's head on a stake? The demon takes the mike in hand: "tonight's performance by the B-52s has been canceled due to, ummm, technical difficulties. But stick around for God's favorite band: Flaming Fire." The crowd panics, but it's hard to run when the earth turns to blood, the exits have been blocked by rivers of molten lava and winged angels are plucking yuppies from the crowd like cheesy morsels from a fondue pot. Just as the snack bar erupts into a mile-high column of flame, a pile-driver beat pumps from the PA system and Flaming Fire take the stage. One vocalist is wearing Fred Schneider's head like that robot in the movie Black Hole while another singer the one with the wings is incinerating random fat guys wearing Hawaiian shirts with her fire breath. The last thing you remember was the chubby housewife next to you imploding into vapor. Rapture or spontaneous combustion? You'll never know.
As far as I can tell, Flaming Fire are the harbingers of the Apocalypse. "The end is near" and Flaming Fire are playing on the center stage, wading knee deep in blood and singing in tongues of flame. Flaming Fire combine digital and acoustic instrumentation in equal doses: there's a guitar strum for every drum machine beat and a banjo pluck for every quirky sci-fi inspired keyboard riff. There are a few awkward moments and rough edges on Songs from the Shining Temple, but Flaming Fire is close to having perfected their brand of electro-folk-doom rock. Songs from the Shining Temple is much better than Flaming Fires previous album(*): the song writing and production is much improved and their vision is focused.
Flaming Fire wouldn't be the same band without their vocalists. Lauren Weinstein and Kate and Patrick Hambrecht team up to fill your ears with pleasure and your soul with terror. Maybe it's Kate's first name, but I can help but compare them to the B-52's: 2 ladies and a dude, kickass female harmonies and gorgeous voices make their Apocalyptic vision that much easier to swallow.
Songs from the Shining Temple opens with the pumping rhythms of the gruesome and passionate The Way You Kill Me (Blood Does Shine). "I love it when you kill me, It's so hot, hot, hot. I love it when I'm dying, It's so hot, hot, hot." Who knew the end of the world could be so fun? Kill the Right People seems to be a demon deliverer's pledge not to "kill the wrong people," backed by pianos, banjos and guitar. Your Love Belongs to Me is so good I thought it had to be a cover song, but it's not it sounds like classic 80s New Wave, but it's pure Flaming Fire. If it weren't 2003, this could be a top 10 song.
Gun Through a Razor is a raw and dirty grind and twist rock 'n' roll song with more "Yeah"s than any other song ever made. Ever. Yeah! I had no idea you could defy death by kicking Death's ass on Cut the Reaper Flaming Fire recommend you do just that. "You've got to cut the reaper, cut the reaper, cut the reaper, cut the reaper." Better than that Blue Oyster Cult song sort of. On Foreign Car it is revealed that Jesus' employees drive around in Subarus, and "God's grease monkeys don't play nice" be careful not to listen to this album while under the influence of psychedelic drugs, or MOA inhibitors.
Songs from the Shining Temple is one of the most bizarre and eclectic, yet listenable albums ever made. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, or out of Revelations, or something to scare your roommates out of the apartment: give this record a spin.
(*) Titled Get Old and Die with Flaming Fire, and reviewed by Dan in Legends #121.
Post: Perhaps Transparent Recordings, 189 Devoe St., 1st Fl, Brooklyn, NY, 11211, USA
Phone: (718) 599-9446