Mike Williamson (Guitars, Bass) and John Page (Drums) have known each other by being part of separate long-running rock bands (The Frank, Diesel May) which have played together in their hometown of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Together under the new project FIRES BURN LOW, they released their self-titled album in 2018, and this past August they have delivered a noteworthy follow-up, a massive- 4-tracker “The Remaining Landscape“. Influenced by the likes of Neurosis, Russian Circles, Pelican, Tool and some others, they’re certainly not copies of any of them. The new EP provides a fascinating insight into the development of instrumental music, infusing various shades of post rock, progressive and post metal, refreshing them with more classic sounding and stabilizing instrumental rock pillars. Today, we’re giving it a special treatment with full track by track commentary, a bunch of first-hand details from the band, and two lists of noteworthy musicians, recommended by the band themselves.
Asked about their background, the duo commented: “We decided to start up something new through a mutual interest in heavier music and wanting a completely different creative outlet from our regular gigs. Being a 2 man band has made the songwriting process somewhat easier (less members = less opinions), plus being instrumental works well with the fact that we enjoy listening to artists in the Post Rock/Post Metal genre – it made a lot of sense to go down this musical path. We like the freedom of being able to have unconventional song structures, taking the song where we want it to go at any time.”
The local music scene likely isn’t any different in Red Deer than another similar sized city.
“There are a lack of venues to play (even before COVID), and most of the ones which do offer live music have a hard time keeping the doors open.” – says the band. “We have bands that are new, and ones that have been around for years, playing all different styles. The artists which draw the biggest crowds are typically in the general rock category. For the most part we’re a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of city.”
As for bands and artists worth a check, the band recommendeds a couple of acts from the ‘post’ genre spectrum:
Hegy – We Won’t Make It Home (Technically this was a late-2019 release but close enough and definitely worth checking out!)
Telepathy – Burn Embrace
Astodan – Bathala
Wolfhand – The Devil Arrives
Continued below, including a special list by Mike: “Top 10 Friendliest Musicians I’ve Met”, and “Hard Rockin’ Hidden Gems From The 70s” Spotify Playlist!:
Words by Fires Burn Low:
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑎𝑙𝑏𝑢𝑚 𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑡𝑜𝑔𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑦𝑝𝑒𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑎 𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑐𝑜ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑒.
Since we’re not releasing 10+ track albums with 4 minute songs, our approach is different.” – continues the band. “Each of these songs hovers in the 10 minute range (except for one under 7 minutes), so we take time with each part in each song to get the most out of it. We try to keep it interesting for the listener, and don’t jam on the same riff for too long. On the other hand we try not to throw in too many parts since that can start sounding scattered.
𝑊𝑒 𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑤 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑎 𝑣𝑎𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑡𝑦 𝑜𝑓 𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑝𝑖𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠.
It’s a known fact that your environment affects your sound/music, and it’s no different with us. Long, brutally cold winters will get to a person.
𝑊𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑛 𝐴𝑙𝑏𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑎, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑎𝑚𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑒𝑒𝑧𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑒𝑚𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑐𝑎𝑛 𝑏𝑒 𝑓𝑟𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑤𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑔𝑜 𝑎𝑤𝑎𝑦. 𝑇ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑏𝑢𝑡𝑒𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑐.
It starts in what would be considered a ‘Post Rock frame of mind’ but then we venture off from there. Our music has been described as ‘old school’, which is alright with us, and sometimes our sound has been compared to bands we listen to but wouldn’t necessarily say we’re influenced by, which is interesting.”
We recorded the album in the traditional way of laying down the drums first as a foundation, then start building on top of them. There are multiple guitar tracks which were created by putting mics in front of a combination of actual amps, using different guitars and pedals. Maybe this is what helps give it the ‘old school’ vibe.
𝑁𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑔𝑠 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑡𝑒𝑛 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎 𝑐𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑦𝑏𝑜𝑎𝑟𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑝𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑑, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑤𝑒 𝑑𝑜 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑎 𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑠𝑜 𝑖𝑡 𝑓𝑙𝑜𝑤𝑠 𝑠𝑚𝑜𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑙𝑦.
We also like to focus on the outros so the listener always has something to look forward to until the end.
Track by track commentary:
A Light That Ignites: There’s a lot going on with this one, it’s also the quickest paced on the EP. It’ll pick up, drop down, then repeat. The first thing you hear is a snippet of something that happens later in the song but with a lot of ambience to make it sound distant and different. From there it builds then opens up to a mix of straight-up heavier riffs with a rock edge. There are chugging and mellow parts, melodic and aggressive parts. The most unique aspect is the outro, which is a variety of looped clean guitars, which become almost orchestral, over top of a constant thumping bass drum.
Descend the Caldera: The approach with this one was to have it start and end with completely different riffs/melodies, but have it book-ended with a similar drum part. It’s another exercise in variety – the first third of the song gets relatively close to doom territory, opens up, then drops down to a basic chugging guitar. Some guitar harmonies are layered on top, then it’s hard-hitting again, almost ‘galloping’. From there we introduce the big outro, with more layering of guitars.
Remembrance: Clocking in right around 6 and a half minutes, we consider this our radio single. It was written after first coming up with the opening looped guitar lick, and adding John’s catchy drumbeat. We head down a couple different musical avenues, again dropping down to a quiet looped guitar, then we start the big build. The outro is full-on double-bass kicks and chugging guitars, while still keeping in mind the song’s catchiness. It’s a fun one to play.
After This All Ends: The obvious different element here is the acoustic guitar at the start. The intention is to add that much more of a contrast for when the wall of heaviness comes in. We also have multiple parts played on an EBow throughout, which when done certain ways can have a cello effect. Since we don’t know any cellists, this will be the closest we can get to capturing that sound. This song also focuses on the outro, which can be almost hypnotic (depending on your state of mind at the time of listening). The album fades out on a looping EBow section.
Top 10 Friendliest Musicians I’ve Met
List by Mike
I’ve been able to meet many well-known musicians, for a variety of reasons. While some have been let-downs, many have been genuinely nice people. Here’s a list of standouts, in alphabetical order:
1. Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory)
I was able to open for one of his side projects, City of Fire, and he was even taking his turn selling merch at that show!
2. Clutch (Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, JP Gaster)
I’ve been a long time fan of Clutch, I’ve met 3 out of the 4 guys on different occasions, all were as friendly as you’d expect;
3. Sacha Dunable (Intronaut)
Guitar-builder extraordinaire, our paths crossed through business;
4. Todd Kerns (Bassist for Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Frontman for Age of Electric)
A good friend of a good friend;
5. Corb Lund
Before he was an international country music superstar, Corb was the bass player in an Edmonton based punk metal band I’m a huge fan of, called The Smalls. I’ve played multiple gigs with them, he was always good to have a drink with;
6. Ray Luzier (Korn)
Open about his experiences being part of such a big band.
7. Jeff Matz (High on Fire)
A good guy, went out of his way to be helpful
8. Mark Slaughter (Slaughter)
An unlikely pairing, my band opened for Slaughter one night and drinking beers with Mark ended up being one of the highlights of my gigging experiences.
9. Ruyter Suys (Nashville Pussy)
I’ve been able to open for NP more than once, Ruyter was always awesome, and absolutely slays on guitar;
10. Ben Verellen (Helms Alee)
Amp building guru, I was also able to work with Ben through business and he has to be one of the nicest people in the music industry.
Extra: “Hard Rockin’ Hidden Gems From The 70s” Spotify Playlist:
Intentionally cheesy title. I’ve always been a fan of the sound from this era, and there are so many great tunes by bands who became successful for other songs, or by artists who aren’t as well-known. These are deep cuts that need to be discovered. There are 20 songs here, all have a similar vibe and will get the head nodding. You may be surprised by the material some of these bands have released!