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Fightstar - Grand Unification

Fightstar, Grand Unification

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FIGHTSTAR is, of course, the new band fronted by ex-Busted lead singer, Charlie Simpson.

Far from the pop-rock of that former boy band outfit, Fightstar explore the darker side of the rock spectrum, frequently delving into hardcore music-making that veers between grunge and goth-rock.

Produced by Colin Richardson (Funeral For A Friend, Machine Head and Slipknot), Grand Unification is a genuinely heavy-hitter that helps to exorcise the boy band past of its lead singer in emphatic fashion.

Having said that, it also conforms to a pretty strict formula and frequently struggles to sound anything other than an ordinary entry into the genre.

There’s Goth-style screaming, crunching guitar riffs in abundance, and sampled voiceovers that ponder important things, as well as a fascination with sleep that comes in stark contrast to the bone-crunching riffs that are far from relaxing.

Several of the tracks seem built around a re-awakening, from mellow album opener To Sleep, to ultra-loud album closer, Wake Up.

In between, there’s Sleep Well Tonight, Open Your Eyes and Hazy Eyes.

The album works best when keeping things focused towards the mainstream, such as former singles Paint Your Target (which falls prone to comparisons with Hundred Reasons), or most recent hit, Waste A Moment, a fairly raucous indie/rock track with alternating melodic vocals and heavy riffing guitars that could well have been penned by Funeral For A Friend, Lostprophets or, to a certain extent, Bush. Certainly, the vocals are delivered in the same husky, grunge style of Gavin Rossdale.

Occasionally, the album lazily lapses into one too many Goth-like screams to add it extra menace that’s not needed – the head-splitting Build An Army being a prime example.

But in the main, the band succeeds in juggling some melodic riffs with the heavier chords to take-notice effect that should secure a strong enough fanbase for the future.

Grand Unification won’t win any awards for ingenuity but it’s a perfectly ok listen for fans of the hardcore genre that hints at plenty of potential. Busted’s Charlie has plenty to be pleased about having achieved the leap from throwaway pop confection to mature big band singer with convincing maturity.

The album’s artwork, inspired by Manga and delivered by Dan Conway, is well worth checking out too, adding them an extra appeal that isn’t always matched by the music.

Track listing:

  1. To Sleep
  2. Grand Unification
  3. Waste A Moment
  4. Sleep Well Tonight
  5. Paint Your Target
  6. Build An Army
  7. Last Conversation (Here Again)
  8. Lost Like Tears In The Rain
  9. Open Your Eyes
  10. Mono
  11. Hazy Eyes
  12. Grand Unification
  13. Wake Up