Frontiers Records FRCD 108
Produced by: Kevin Chalfant

Released: Feb. 22 / Website
Closest Relative: The Storm, Melodica

  1. Ignition
  2. Somewhere Far Away
  3. More Than A Mystery
  4. You're Bringing Me Down
  5. I'm Falling
  6. I See Red
  7. This Night
  8. The Man I Want To Be
  9. I Will Remember You
  10. What The World Needs To Know

Kevin Chalfant is a voice to be respected. His work with The Storm, The VU and live with many others has provided AOR fans with hours of listening pleasure.
Chalfant's work with The Storm gave the singer a lot of exposure and a lot of well deserved high praise. Those albums remain classics to this day.
In Two Fires, Kevin re-teamed with The Storm guitarist Josh Ramos and the pair went about recapturing the sound of that band. The debut Two Fires album was released and was naturally instantly compared to The Storm's two albums.
Well, at least, that's how I and several others viewed it. But, in fact, it was probably a little unfair of me to do so, as these are two different bands. One big point is that the difference in recording budget was at least 10 times more with The Storm and the songs (without Storm co-writer Gregg Rolie) also a little different.
The debut album was a solid album of pure melodic AOR, with some catchy numbers. Josh and Kevin have a solid bond and on the second album have changed one of the main points of criticism levelled at them after the release of the debut - the song writing.
Ignition features the same delivery style of the debut - that is, very smooth, mid tempo AOR, but with a twist.
There is far better variation in the songs, second time around. Ignition features some big ballads and anthems, plus some softer moments.
But it also features some far darker and moodier moments, which have added texture and balance to the album as a whole. It has made the album's 'journey' a little less predictable and lets the guys show more of what they are capable of.
Jim Peterik co-writes 7 of the album's 10 tracks with Kevin.
However, there is no doubt there will still be some considerable debate over this release. The subject of that debate will be the production quality of the album.
Some won't care, others might. The sound overall isn't as polished as the debut, in fact it is considerably rawer.
Now depending on your outlook, this may or may not figure in your thinking at all. The songs are certainly first rate, as are the continuous harmonies, Kevin's ever powerful hook filled vocals and Josh's more diverse rhythm and lead guitar work.
Track By Track:
Ignition kicks off the album, with a big traditional rock n roll intro. This lead song and title track was actually recorded after the bulk of the rest of the album and features guest players, drummer Kenny Arnoff and guitarist Michael Gardner, plus organ/synth player Chuck Giacinto.
Funnily enough, this is the best sounding track of the album, with a slightly better production quality than the remaining songs. Kevin's vocals are all over the song, working his magic especially well in the powerful chorus.
Somewhere Far Away is a song where the voice rules the day and leads the song through it's various hooks and melodies. An example of traditional uptempo, hook filled AOR.
More Than A Mystery is the first example of the guys stretching their boundaries. This mid-tempo piano-lead ballad is dark and brooding, leading into a pure 80's keyboard driven chorus.
You're Bringing Me Down is an uptempo AOR rock track that Kevin wrote solo. I am particularly fond of the chorus, which is quite in your face, while staying true to the mood of the song.
I'm Falling is the big sentimental ballad of the album. Just what candle waving fans call for and one of the better ballads I have heard Kevin sing and write. This is a major love song!
I See Red features a raw and bluesy guitar lead from Josh, which sets the tone of the song. This is a tough talking, tough sounding rock track with a stylish and emotional chorus.
This Night is a more easy going number, with another very 80's, very smooth chorus that, style wise, once again sets this record apart from the debut.
The Man I Want To Be is the album's second big ballad. This one is particularily emotional and filled with a great spirit. The chorus has hooks all over it and features another strong vocal performance.
I Will Remember You is straight from the AOR handbook and reminds me of the best parts of the debut album. Lots of hooks, lots of vocal melodies and a great up tempo feel good approach.
What The World Needs To Know is a great song to finish the album. This is one of Kevin's best vocal performances of the album and with the backing of a choir, the song really comes to life. Bound to become a sentimental favourite, this is a great AOR song.
Rhythm Of The World is a hidden bonus track and features the guys stretching out again, in tune with a melodic rock song, but with some definite outside influences. I'll leave you to discover the song yourselves!
BOTTOM LINE: I am quite happy with this release. The songs are some of the best Kevin has written and the team formed between him and Jim Peterik is one I hope will continue and grow. Josh Ramos has also supplied some heavily melodic guitar riffs that will please more AOR fans.
In terms of melodic releases, there aren't too many absolute pure AOR releases these days, so Two Fires should be warmly embraced.
But all said and done, it would be even better if songs and performances of this quality could be highlighted by a huge production job.
If that was the case, there would be little difference between this album and the now classic The Storm albums.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of the debut and fans of Journey style pure AOR.
DISCOGRAPHY:707; Solo; The VU; The Storm; Two Fires - Two Fires . Ignition

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