Fireball Ministry, Remember the Story: Taking a Page

Posted in Reviews on November 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fireball ministry remember the story

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 18 years since Los Angeles-based heavy rockers Fireball Ministry made their debut with Où Est la Rock? (discussed here) on Bong Load Custom Records, but then, it’s also hard to believe it’s been seven since their self-titled (review here) was issued via Restricted Release. Fireball Ministry followed two strong outings in 2003’s The Second Great Awakening and 2005’s Their Rock is Not Our Rock, and while a perhaps overly slick production took away some of the impact one found in the songs on their earlier offerings, the band’s songwriting was as crisp and efficient as ever.

Prior to and following the release of that album, founding guitarist/vocalist James A. Rota spent time in supergroup The Company Band alongside guitarist Dave Bone, Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon, Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis and CKY drummer Jess Margera, but still, seven years is a significant delay between full-lengths for Fireball Ministry, who in the interim have continued to play shows and brought bassist Scott Reeder (The ObsessedKyussUnida, etc.) on board the lineup with Rota, guitarist/backing vocalist Emily Burton and drummer John Oreshnick.

No doubt that’s a powerhouse presence and I won’t take away from what Reeder brings to the Hollywood rockers’ overall sound on their fifth long-player, Remember the Story (on Cleopatra Records), but as was the case seven years ago and has been the case with Fireball Ministry all along it is still the songwriting that most shines through. Elements bleed in from classic metal, desert heavy and voracious riff rock, but it’s the structural integrity of what Rota and company do with those pieces that makes the 10-song/51-minute full-length so undeniably their own.

Especially after the self-titled, production was a question heading into Remember the Story, but as opener “End of Our Truth” and the following “Everything You Wanted” set a tone through hook, comfortable tempo and a purposeful fervency of groove, the contribution of producer/engineer Paul Fig — who has helmed records for post-reunion Alice in Chains as well as Rush and Ghost, among others of a more metallic ilk — shines through in presenting the songs with a clean sense that nonetheless doesn’t detract from their harder-hitting aspects.

Oreshnick‘s drums push “End of Our Truth” into and through its chorus with ease as Reeder noodles his bassline beneath the core riffing from Rota and Burton, and an immediate balance is established that Remember the Story maintains for its duration as cuts like the bruiser-riffed “The Answer” and the melodic highlight “Weavers Dawn” bring a feeling of variety around the root approach, which remains straightforward and unabashed in its will to engage the audience on the level of classic heavy rock. That is, Fireball Ministry clearly aren’t looking to change the world.

fireball ministry

While peppered with raucous moments as on the cowbell-laden “Back on Earth” here or the transfigured Sabbathian swing and stomp of “All for Naught” — which seems to draw a direct line to “A National Acrobat” — it’s never been Fireball Ministry‘s intention to reinvent heavy rock so much as to highlight the best of what never needed reinventing about it in the first place.

They do that again with Remember the Story, and indeed as the songs play out through the meatier “Dying to Win,” the aptly-titled instrumental “Stop Talking” and the rolling title-track, that indeed becomes the narrative of the record as a whole. It is a story worth remembering, and the hooks the entire way through are earworm enough to make sure that listeners do precisely that, whether it’s the initial energy of the opening two cuts as bolstered by “Back on Earth” or the seeming B-side that begins with “Stop Talking” and moves inexorably toward acoustic-led closer “I Don’t Believe a Word.”

That latter, and last, track is a Motörhead cover taken from 1996’s Overnight Sensation and is given something of a manifesto feel as regards Rota‘s delivery of the lyrics. The perspective is very much in keeping with sentiments like Their Rock is Not Our Rock and the more political mindset of the self-titled — the band setting itself apart from its surroundings and offering a critique from a distant point of view. With Burton joining Rota on vocals in a follow-up to the harmonies that cap “Weavers Dawn” or the call and response in the verses of “Everything You Wanted” back on side A, it’s a moment of departure from the rest of Remember the Story, but still not so far removed as to upset the overarching flow of the record, which after finding itself on the steadiest of ground in its first half takes relative advantage of the opportunity to be a bit more adventurous with its second.

Again, classic form. And giving that classic form a modernist execution is what Fireball Ministry have done best for going on 20 years. Listening to Remember the Story, one can’t help but wonder if the band’s intention wasn’t to remind its audience of that in the first place — an urging toward recall rather than, say, the suggestion that this outing is the complete story to be remembered. It may or may not be, but especially as the title-track and “All for Naught” roll into “I Don’t Believe a Word” and the band get ready to make their collective exit, there’s a sense of summary that seems to extend beyond this record itself, speaking perhaps for the work of Fireball Ministry across their discography and examining the group’s place in the heavy rock underground, their accomplishments, their letdowns, and what they might still hope to do.

The question that will remain to be seen, especially with a seven-year gap between the last LP and this one, is whether Fireball Ministry‘s story has received its last chapter, or if it will continue. For what it’s worth, the returned vigor to their impact serves them remarkably well throughout here, and though well expected, their level of craft is as uncompromising in its accomplishment as ever. It’s not like they didn’t know what they were doing all along, but maturity suits them, and if this might be their final statement, they’ve reaffirmed their place among deeply underappreciated heavy rock songwriters.

Fireball Ministry, “The Answer” official video

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Here are 40+ New Releases to Look for in the Next Three Weeks

Posted in Features on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Starting tomorrow, the next three weeks are absolutely stupid with new albums. Over-the-top, ridiculous. An immediately-go-broke amount of music. Nothing less than an onslaught. We’re under attack.

Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money — also far be it from me not to — but there’s some really killer stuff in here. As to why it’s all landing now? Some of it of course has to do with the timing of when it was recorded, bands hitting the studio in Spring before heading out on the road over the summer, but Fall releases also line up nicely for tours in October and November, heading into the holiday season, when the music industry basically shuts down. This is the last chance for releases to come out in 2017 and be considered for best-of-year lists.

I doubt the likes of Chelsea Wolfe or Godspeed You! Black Emperor or even Kadavar would cop to that as a motivating factor, instead pointing to the timing of Fall touring and so on, but these things are rarely coincidental. You know how there aren’t any blockbusters in January but every movie feels like it’s trying to win an Oscar? Same kind of deal.

Nonetheless, 2017 is laying it on particularly thick these next couple weeks, and as you can see in the lists below, if you’ve got cash to spend, you can pretty much choose your rock and roll adventure. I’ll add to this as need be as well, so keep an eye for changes:

Sept. 22:

Alcest, Souveinirs d’un Autre Monde (10th Anniversary Edition)
Brant Bjork, Europe ’16
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spunthe-flying-eyes-burning-of-the-season
Epitaph, Claws
Faces of the Bog, Ego Death
The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season
Fvzz Popvli, Fvzz Dei
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Luciferian Towers
Jarboe & Father Murphy, Jarboe & Father Murphy
Monarch, Never Forever
Nibiru, Qaal Babalon
Process of Guilt, Black Earth
Satyricon, Deep Calleth Upon Deep
Spelljammer, Inches from the Sun (Reissue)
Thonian Horde, Inconnu
Trash Titan, Welcome to the Banana Party
Ufomammut, 8
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead
Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

Sept. 29:

monolord rust
Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy
A Devil’s Din, One Hallucination Under God
Disastroid, Missiles
Jim Healey, Just a Minute More (Sept. 26)
Idylls, The Barn
Kadavar, Rough Times
Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact
Monolord, Rust
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Radio Moscow, New Beginnings
Scream of the Butterfly, Ignition
Tronald, Tronald (Sept. 30)
Unsane, Sterilize
Wucan, Reap the Storm

Oct. 6:

fireball-ministry-remember-the-storyElder Druid, Carmina Satanae
Fireball Ministry, Remember the Story
Frank Sabbath, Are You Waiting? (Oct. 2)
Himmellegeme, Myth of Earth
House of Broken Promises, Twisted EP
O.R.B., Naturality
Primitive Man, Caustic
Spirit Adrift, Curse of Conception
Spotlights, Seismic
Sumokem, The Guardian of Yosemite
Torso, Limbs
White Manna, Bleeding Eyes

Also:

Oct. 13: Enslaved, Firebreather, I Klatus, R.I.P., Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (reissue), Weird Owl, etc.

Oct. 20: Iron Monkey, Spectral Haze, Bell Witch, The Spacelords, etc.

Something I forgot?

Invariably, right? If you know of something not seen above that should be, then by all means, please leave a comment letting me know. My only ask is that you keep it civil and not call me a fucking idiot or anything like that. I write these posts very early in the day, and if something has been neglected, I assure you it’s not on purpose and I’m happy to correct any and all oversights.

Thanks for reading and happy shopping. Support local record stores.

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Fireball Ministry Post Video for “The Answer”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fireball-ministry

Executions of heavy rock as straightforward and yet as thoroughly satisfying in their melody and craft as that of Fireball Ministry are not easy to come by. On the West Coast of the US, maybe only Mos Generator would stand up to the standard of songwriting and I’m not sure even that Washington trio has the longevity factor working for them as does founding guitarist/vocalist Jim Rota‘s Los Angeles-based outfit. As Rota, guitarist/backing vocalist Emily Burton, drummer John Oreshnick and the noteworthy addition of bassist Scott Reeder prepare to release the new album, Remember the Story, on Oct. 6 via Cleopatra Records, they’ve posted a video for the track “The Answer” that only draws out some of the best elements the record has to offer.

Those elements? The hook, for one. Fireball Ministry have never been short on chorus quality, and Remember the Story certainly hits that mark as well. There’s also an overarching sense of professionalism at play in “The Answer” and in the video for it that comes through clear. Think “production quality” as a theme bringing together the aural and visual representation of the material The album was helmed by Paul Fig, who’s worked with Alice in Chains and others you can see listed below, and in addition to Rota‘s own video work, the band has partnered with director Brandon Trost for the clip, which seems to portray a narrative of betrayal, with a gutshot protagonist who meets his death in the most righteous and headbanging fashion possible.

Easy to dig for its melody, for the clarity of its performances and the multi-tiered appeal in general, there’s just about no way “The Answer” isn’t four and a half minutes well spent, and if you haven’t heard any of Remember the Story yet, it’s a resounding argument for why you should be looking forward to the release date. And make no mistake, you shoud be.

Video and PR wire info follows, as well as upcoming tour dates on the West Coast that include a stop at Cal Jam ’17.

Please enjoy:

Fireball Ministry, “The Answer” official video

With only a month to go until the release of their long-awaited, 5th studio album, Southern California’s reverends of rock ‘n’ roll Fireball Ministry unveil the video for their new single “The Answer.” The rock anthem is featured on Remember The Story, which debuts on October 6th via Cleopatra Records. Pre-order the album now at iTunes and BandCamp.

“We’re really excited to be teaming up again with director Brandon Trost for “The Answer” video. Brandon most recently worked with [Fireball Ministry vocalist] Jim [Rota] on the latest two Foo Fighters videos as Director of Photography and he has a visionary way of telling stories set to music.” – Fireball Ministry

“The Answer” is Fireball Ministry’s latest track from Remember The Story, and follow up to the previously released song “Back On Earth.” The band’s first album in nearly seven years delivers their tried and true signature stomp and fuzzy swing with an even broader scope and deeper emotional range. The album mines the depths of loss, pain, and confusion, exorcising demons with the spirited uplift this kind of music best delivers.

The record was produced/mixed by Paul Fig, the engineer behind records from Alice In Chains, Ghost, Deftones and Stone Sour. Sabbath soaked rhythms, Priest worshipping melodies, and no-nonsense Thin Lizzy mayhem collide in the Hollywood, California band, a group that has humbly but confidently flown the flag for rock authenticity since the hard-partying year of 1999.

Pre-order the CD/Vinyl of Remember The Story here: FireballMinistry.cleorecs.com

Fireball Ministry will be performing with Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and more at the Cal Jam 17 Festival on October 7th at Glen Helen Amphitheater and Festival Grounds in San Bernardino, CA. Tickets are available at https://www.caljamfest.com/. The band has also announced a handful of Southwest dates with Red Fang, including a hometown show at the Troubadour, in Los Angeles on October 28th. Buy tickets at http://fireballministry.com/.

Fireball Ministry Tour Dates:
Oct 7 – San Bernardino, CA – Cal Jam 17 Festival @ Glen Helen Amphitheater
Oct 25 – Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar
Oct 26 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
Oct 27 – Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar
Oct 28 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour

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Fireball Ministry Set Oct. 6 Release for Remember the Story; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fireball ministry

Been waiting a while for this one. Los Angeles heavy rockers Fireball Ministry are gearing up to release their fifth album, Remember the Story, on Oct. 6 via Cleopatra Records. I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan of their last record, a 2010 self-titled (review here) that struck as having tipped the balance accessibility that was always there in their sound over to the sacrifice of the classic heavy rock thrust that made earlier outings like 1999’s Où Est la Rock? (discussed here) and 2003’s The Second Great Awakening so righteous, but one piece of the equation that’s never been missing has been songwriting, and as the streaming single “Back on Earth” (not an Ozzy cover) reintroduces that heavier edge — plus cowbell — they continue to live up to the high standard of craft they’ve set over their 18 years together.

You can stream “Back on Earth,” which also marks the studio introduction of bassist Scott Reeder (yup, that’s the one), at the bottom of this post. Fireball Ministry are also set to play Cal Jam ’17 in October, and they were just out in the desert a couple weeks ago to shoot a video for “The Answer” from Remember the Story, so expect more before the album surfaces. Right on.

Here’s word from the label:

fireball-ministry-remember-the-story

FIREBALL MINISTRY – Remember the Story

Remember the Story, the band’s 1st album in nearly seven years, delivers their tried and true signature stomp and fuzzy swing with an even broader scope and deeper emotional range. The album mines the depths of loss, pain, and confusion, exorcising demons with the spirited uplift this kind of music best delivers.

“Remember The Story is about moving forward while staying connected to your past. With this album we’ve reached a new stage of crystallization and prowess in our riffage.” – Emily J Burton

“This is a very personal record to me and was written from down deep. It’s also an honor to be playing alongside Emily (Burton) and John (Oreshnick) for the last 20 years. Having Scott (Reeder) with us along for the ride has made our greatest music to date in my humble opinion.” – James A Rota

The upcoming record was produced/mixed by Paul Fig, the engineer behind important records from Alice In Chains and Ghost. Sabbath soaked rhythms, Priest worshipping melodies, and no-nonsense Thin Lizzy mayhem collide in the Hollywood, California band, a group that has humbly but confidently flown the flag for rock authenticity since the hard-partying year of 1999.

Remember The Story’s cover artwork was created by Caitlin Mattisson and conveys the album’s theme of death and renewal. Speaking about the art, Mattisson says, “the vulture represents renewal and transformation and has connections to many mythologies and cultures, from being descended from Griffins in Greek Mythology to the scientific (Latin) name of Turkey Vulture translating to Golden Purifier, which ties in to Jim’s theme about a 2nd chance at life. Elements inspired by Hildgard of Bingen have been worked into the border shapes, as well as 2 blown out candles on the front. The book on the front is a Fireball Ministry hymnal shooting light. On the back of the album the candles are lit again and the vulture is flying away towards a new moon, new beginning.”

Fireball Ministry will be performing with Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and more at the Cal Jam 17 Festival on October 7th at Glen Helen Amphitheater and Festival Grounds in San Bernardino, CA. Tickets are available at www.caljamfest.com.

1. End Of Our Truth
2. Everything You Wanted
3. Back On Earth
4. The Answer
5. Dying Win
6. Stop Talking
7. Weavers Dawn
8. Remember the Story
9. All For Naught
10. I Don’t Believe A Word

Fireball Ministry live:
Oct 07 Cal Jam 17 Glen Helen Amphitheater San Bernardino, CA

Fireball Ministry is:
James A. Rota II – Vocals/Guitar
Emily J. Burton – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Scott Reeder – Bass
John Oreshnick – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/fireballministry
https://twitter.com/fireballmin
https://www.instagram.com/fireballministry/
http://fireballministry.com/
https://fireballministry.bandcamp.com/album/remember-the-story
https://www.facebook.com/CleopatraRecords
https://twitter.com/cleopatrarecord
https://instagram.com/cleopatrarecords/
http://cleopatrarecords.bandcamp.com/

Fireball Ministry, “Back on Earth”

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Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2015: Fireball Ministry, Wo Fat, Mos Generator and More Playing Arizona Festival

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 29th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

fireball ministry on motorboat (Photo by Andrew Stuart)

Sharing a base of operations with the Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson, Arizona, the upcoming Borderland Fuzz Fiesta will make its initial showing in 2015 an impressive round of acts including Fireball Ministry — as seen on Motörhead‘s Motörboat above, with none other than Scott Reeder on bass — Wo FatMos GeneratorPowered Wig Machine and plenty of others, plus a light show from the venerable Mad Alchemy to add visual psychedelia to what’s sure to be a well-distorted evening Feb. 21 at The Rock. Not a bad way to start out, if you’re starting out.

Put together by Wayne and Joseph Rudell of Powered Wig Machine, the whole deal was announced via the PR wire as follows:

borderland fuzz fiesta

BORDERLAND FUZZ FIESTA: Tucson, Arizona’s First Annual Riff Party Reveals 2015 Lineup Including FIREBALL MINISTRY, WO FAT, MOS GENERATOR & More

The desert city of Tucson, AZ is host to a wide array of annual events in the musical realm and this coming February will see the addition of a still another: The Borderland Fuzz Fiesta. Conceived and curated by the Rudell brothers of regional desert rockers Powered Wig Machine and Fuzz Evil, the inaugural show will take place on February 21st at The Rock.

Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2015 Official Lineup:

Fireball Ministry
Wo Fat
Mos Generator
Powered Wig Machine
Goatroper
Skulldron
Asimov
Yeti Ender
Conqueror Worm
Methra

When: February 21, 2015
Where: The Rock, 136 North Park Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719

“My brother and I have always wanted to put together a stoner rock themed fest and we’re definitely excited about this first year’s lineup,” comments an enthusiastic Wayne Rudell. The bill for the event certainly serves up ample helpings of the stoner genre with its fine mix of bands from the Southwest region and beyond, including Fireball Ministry, Wo Fat, Mos Generator, Powered Wig Machine, Skulldron, Asimov, Goatroper, Yeti Ender, Conquerer Worm, Methra and the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show.

While the lineup is definitely under the wider umbrella of the stoner rock genre, there is a great diversity of sounds among the bands, from sprinklings of the psychedelic to slabs of doom and scorching thrash riffs, or pretty much something for every pair of ears inclined towards heavy music. Mr. Rudell certainly believes so: “We really feel that fans of this music would appreciate this event and will hopefully get behind it in the time to come, we’re going to be striving to make the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta bigger and better every year.”

Tickets for Borderland Fuzz Fiesta are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and are available now RIGHT HERE.

Sponsored by Eminence Speakers, Lace Pickups, Hovercraft Amplifiers, Greeson Custom Guitars, Tucson Maidens of Metal, Electric Beard of Doom, Radio, Sludged.com, and Wildcat Screen Repair.

Links:
facebook.com/borderlandfuzzfiesta
rocktucson.com
therocktucson.ticketleap.com/borderland-fuzz-fiesta-2015

Fireball Ministry, “Butcher, Faker, Policy Maker” official video

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The Company Band, Pros and Cons EP: A Short Presentation with a Power Point

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Now aligned to Clutch’s Weathermaker Music imprint, corporately themed supergroup The Company Band make their latest wager in the form of the five-track Pros and Cons EP. Like the band’s past works – 2009’s self-titled full-length (review here) and 2007’s introductory Sign Here, Here and Here EP – Pros and Cons was produced by Andrew Alekel, and to The Company Band’s credit, aside from replacing bassist Jason Diamond of MIA NYC rockers Puny Human, they’ve managed to hold together a very busy lineup for half a decade now. That lineup shakes down as follows:

Neil Fallon (Clutch): Vocals
Jim Rota (Fireball Ministry): Guitar
Dave Bone: Guitar
Brad Davis (Fu Manchu): Bass
Jess Margera (CKY): Drums

Not exactly small potatoes as regards pedigree, and though The Company Band has never toured – they’re doing a few East Coast shows in support of Pros and Cons – their recorded output has remained as consistent in quality as their lineup has stayed stable. Their process seems to be that every so often the musicians get together and rock out some new tracks and then Fallon either tops those songs in the studio with them, as was the case with the LP, or on his own, as is the case with the new EP. Rota, Bone, Davis and Margera recorded with Alekel out on the West Coast, and Fallon put his vocals to the instrumental tracks afterwards, the steady hands of Clutch familiar J. Robbins helming the recording. The result on these five songs is a few strong chorus, some excellent straightforward riffing, Davis’ always stellar bass, and an overall mixture of elements that’s distinct from each individual part while not necessarily separate in terms of genre. Heavy rock persists, is another way of putting it. Rota has long since proved his songwriting acumen in Fireball Ministry, and he’s got excellent collaborative accompaniment in the rest of The Company Band. Perhaps most importantly, as much as it’s been enjoyable to follow the project’s periodic installments since their 2007 first outing, the players’ enjoyment and respect for each other bleeds into everything they create, and that can be heard here from the opening strains of “House of Capricorn” to the fadeout of “El Dorado”’s catchy title line.

Fallon peppers the lyrics of “House of Capricorn” with the kind of tongue-in-cheek corporate-speak that has in no small part defined the course of the band since their inception. It’s almost an exit interview, or the kind of questionnaire one might get upon calling a “How’s my driving” number on the back of a track. The lines, “Welcome everybody to the House of Capricorn/Here’s a short presentation/Please enjoy your stay and thank you in advance for your kindness and participation,” serve as a verse in what I can only imagine is a perfect live set kickoff. A subtly righteous guitar lead is worked into the end, and with its pointedness of direction, “House of Capricorn” is every bit the strong opening statement, following “Zombie Barricades” from the self-titled and the course-setting “Company Man” from the first EP in that regard. The Company Band, it seems, know how to launch a release. Davis’ bass at the beginning of “Black Light Fever” double-times the guitar and commences to launch a profitable groove in the verse, which leads to a grower chorus, Fallon eventually answering himself in a revivalist mode bound to be familiar to anyone who’s gotten down with latter-day Clutch. Moments like that leave me wondering what would happen if Rota was charged with backup vocal duties, what he might be able to do to complement Fallon’s ultra-distinct, ultra-established methods, and how much potential there is there that’s yet been unexploited. Whatever methods they take to get there, The Company Band has never yet failed to produce top-grade choruses, and as the rest of Pros and Cons plays out, it quickly becomes evident that “House of Capricorn” and “Black Light Fever” are, figuratively as well as literally, just the start.

Read more »

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Buried Treasure: Pre-Record Store Day in Connecticut

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 21st, 2011 by JJ Koczan

I don’t really buy into the whole Record Store Day thing. It’s cool that the website has a map I can find stores on wherever I go, but honestly, I don’t buy vinyl and just about every payday is “record store day” for me. As an institution, I think the record store is something worth saving, which is why I go to record stores and spend my money on a regular basis. Well, that and the records, anyway.

As I’ve been out of the country three Record Store Days in a row, I thought I’d do a little pre-shopping this year and while I was in Connecticut for the weekend earlier this month, I swung by my favorite shop in the state, Redscroll Records in Wallingford. It’s always good to know you’re on friendly ground, and when I walked in, they were playing Black Pyramid‘s self-titled album, so I immediately felt at home. Time before last, if you’ll recall, it was Sleep‘s Dopesmoker.

It doesn’t quite match the batch of discs I pulled in last time I was there in the fall, but I still managed to find some good stuff. I grabbed yet another Monster Magnet promo CD — it’s amazing how many there are floating around — called Five Reasons to Testify that has the awful God Says No shot of them with Dave Wyndorf‘s metal codpiece on the front (I’m not even going to show it), as well as the first Firebird record, the first Quest for Fire and the 1999 Bong Load Custom Records issue of Fireball Ministry‘s Où est la Rock? Not a bad haul, all told.

The Firebird I’d picked up at the band’s merch table at Roadburn 2009, but that was the European reissue and this was the original on The Music Cartel, so I couldn’t resist. When I reviewed the second Quest for Fire album, Lights from Paradise, I said that I’d have to go back and buy the first, and it was good to do that, although I think I prefer the second anyway. I couldn’t remember if I owned the Fireball Ministry or not, but decided to take the chance anyway and it paid off. The record kind of rules. Very Fu Manchu, except maybe for the Obsessed-esque “Death Dealer,” which actually features Guy Pinhas on bass, but enjoyable throughout. Probably the most stoner rock of all their albums, which suits me just fine.

There’s a hole punched in the UPC of the Fireball Ministry, which means it was probably someone’s promo, and I always think that’s interesting, and wonder who got the record initially, what they did or didn’t do with it and how they came to sell it. Every time I get emailed another link to download a new release, I get that “born too late” feeling. I’ve gotten plenty in my day, don’t get me wrong, but when I think of the shit that could have come in my mail (all those Monster Magnet promos, for one) and all the silver-backed bootleg CDs I could have bought in the pre-CDR era, I get a little sad. I guess we make the most with what we’ve got. It’s fun hunting this stuff down, anyway.

Most likely I’ll be back at Redscroll before too long, but just figured I’d share anyway, since it’s a quality store and deserves to have the word spread about it as much as possible. Check them out here if you haven’t yet, or find them on that Facebook the kids love so much.

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Whose Rock is Fireball Ministry?

Posted in Reviews on April 26th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

There’s no denying that Hollywood rockers Fireball Ministry have, with their new self-titled on Restricted Release, crafted their most commercial album yet. They were never especially defiant in this regard before, but Fireball Ministry takes the band’s proven songwriting ability (a quick run through 1999’s Ou est la Rock? or 2003’s The Second Great Awakening should be enough to make you aware of their obvious chops in this regard) to new heights of accessibility, carrying across the otherwise unpretentious rocking material with a digital sheen only possible in this age of recording technology.

The centerpiece of Fireball Ministry’s attack has always been guitarist/vocalist James A. Rota. Working here with producer Andrew Alekel (Fu Manchu, The Company Band’s full-length), Rota sounds smoother than ever before on a track like “Fallen Believers,” which plunks along at mid-pace without ever really getting spirited or dynamic, or “Thought it Out,” which seems to reach in the direction of Fu Manchu-styled Californian fuzz but ultimately stops just short of pop-punk fluffery. The drums of John G. Oreshnick sound triggered, Johnny Chow’s bass is barely there, and Emily J. Burton, who provides backing vocals and guitar, seems to be resting almost entirely in line behind Rota’s riffing where some contrast between the two players would do a lot to add character to the material.

There is material on Fireball Ministry that hits with some impact, though. “Followed by a Fall” remains relatively un-neutered by the production it’s given, and “Butcher, Faker, Policy Maker” is such catchy and well-composed pop rock that it could have been recorded in a tin can and it would still be memorable. It’s not so much a question of the songs feeling uninspired or not accomplishing something creatively – and there shouldn’t be any doubt this is the record the band intended to make; Rota’s been heading Fireball Ministry for well over a decade now, and Restricted Release is owned by CKY’s Jess Margera (also Rota’s bandmate in supergroup The Company Band), so one doesn’t imagine there were tight deadlines or restrictions from that direction – but they’re simply lacking the punch that a more rock-centric production could have given them. Certainly they have nowhere near the weight they must carry in a live setting.

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