October 22, 2018 Fight the Fury – Still Breathing (EP Review)
You know John Cooper from his phenomenal “day job,” some band called Skillet. Now, looking to explore a bit of his heavier side, he steps out with a brand-new project, Fight the Fury, and they unleash their debut EP, Still Breathing, this Friday, October 26, 2018, thanks to Atlantic Records. Get pumped!
Known worldwide for his work with the Grammy-nominated Skillet, John Cooper is a talented vocalist, bassist, songwriter and producer. With the Christian Rockers, he has released nine albums over the past twenty-two years, selling over 12-million albums to date and achieving a bevy of accolades. But, sometimes, we have new avenues to explore and new journeys to take. With Fight the Fury, Cooper seeks to tap into his heavier influences, as, if you did not know, he is a dedicated fan of the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot and Disturbed.
Drawing on a lifelong passion for all things heavy, he has authored this new project to explore a beloved musical avenue – and brought along some old friends to do so. Fight the Fury consists of Skillet Guitarist Seth Morrison, Guitarist John Panzer III (who auditioned for Skillet at 16), and Drummer Jared Ward (Morrison’s cousin), all brought together under the goal of hard-hitting Heavy Metal hooks that energize listeners to keep fighting. Cooper further explains: “The music is about battling through the struggles in life we all face in order to survive. The name Fight The Fury recognizes that these songs are a cathartic release. I hope listeners relate to that. I’ve seen music help people who face depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. The process was very therapeutic for me. Even though I’m singing about dark and hard things, we want to communicate that there’s hope at the end of the struggle.”
The 5-song collection wastes not a second’s time in going heavy, with the crunching bass-lines and shredding mayhem of “My Demons” (“I hope you’re happy wherever you are, ‘cause you’re the reason I’m afraid of the dark”). An infectious gaze at trying to survive, uncovering the secret to sleeping soundly beside each of our individual traumas and personal nightmares, “My Demons” provides the perfect opening to a collection that is heavy but always hope-filled; it’s a grittier, angrier Skillet, without the delicious harmonies of Jen Ledger. For those that have always wanted a heavier Skillet, Fight the Fury is a dream!
For “Dominate Me,” they amp up the distortions and gritty textures. Here, a perfect double-entendre provides massively anthemic, sing-along choruses in the name of an ally – be it a person, a thing like music, or a higher power – who helps us fight against the darkness. This flows perfectly into the fiery love song, “Still Burning.” Here, a kind of dissonant contrast between the oft jack-hammering sonics and the near power ballad-esque approach that Cooper takes to his vocals all comes together to create a unique approach. Somehow, it works but it’s a strangely disparate combination, for sure. The positive? It shows that Fight the Fury are not afraid to take some musical risks!
Meanwhile, there’s a refreshing simplicity to “I Cannot” that creates a universally relatable, anthemic offering that is full of infectious, sing-along frustration – frustration and burning anger. This leads flawlessly into the no-holds-barred “Lose Hold Of It All.” This final track goes balls-out with a delicious Metallica influence that weaves throughout the core of the rocker-stomper. Here, a myriad of elements – from a killer guitar solo to Cooper reaching down into the lower depths of his vocal range – come together and create a proper grand finale. Just when you think it’s over? It’s not – and it gets epic!
As with any EP, Still Breathing is a short little aperitif of what Fight the Fury are about and what fans can expect for the future. Is it good? Hell yeah! It’s Hard Rock with bite that will engage fans while continuing to deliver the thoughtful, hopeful lyrics that Cooper is known for. It’s not Skillet and, for that, some fans may be rubbed the wrong way. Fortunately, an entire new legion of music lovers are likely to discover Cooper and his talented bandmates through Fight the Fury, a group of people who love to rock and rock hard! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Fight the Fury’s Still Breathing EP 4 of 5 stars.