Old school Linkin Park (LP) fans rejoice at the advent of Girl On Fire’s (GOF) Not Broken! Not Broken is the debut album by these Seattle alt rockers and their sound definitely sets them apart from the rest of Century Media’s roster. With the most compelling vocal parallels to LP in recent history, GOF is unlike many other artists out today. Their emotive vocals and infectious instrumentals make these guys ones to catch.
The comparison to LP will come as absolutely no surprise from the moment you break into “The Takedown,” the first single and first track on the album. You could say that because of the deep- seated parallels to LP Not Broken is another atypical rock record, but that may be overly dismissive. Yes, it is a very familiar sounding record, and yes, you’ll swear front man Austin Held is Chester Bennington’s kid brother, but none of this matters. What will intrigue you is their familiarity, what will keep you is their fearlessness. Listening to this album, GOF is obviously not afraid to get a little dirty. Their incorporation of more layered melodies with resonant vocals and heavy bottom beats will have you listening more and more closely.
“Dive into the madness, embracing the chaos. We will rise above!”-“One Step Away"
Songs like “The Takedown,” “One Step Away” and “Break These Chains” bring a high powered, chugging guitars and tons of energy. These are the tracks that definitely bring back the 90s rock that many of us remember and loved. Then there are songs like “Reminds Me Of You,” “Losing My Identity” and “Monster” that brings the more heavy melodic, classic rock sound. Especially in “Monster” there are moments of classic rock guitar present, that almost gives an 80s metal sense in the style of Swedish old-school heavy metallers Sister Sin. There is something almost entrancing about the way the chords in these songs dance off one another and working in sonic unity with the other instruments to add power and affect to the vocals. There are influences of early Three Days Grace (Adam-era) and Meteora era LP mixed with some late 80s musical construction present in these tracks as well as in “Automatic Hurt.”
The slower songs on Not Broken create more poignant moments for the listener to give them a chance to see past the influences, past the production and into the heart of GOF. “Believe” is a great example of one of these more sensitive tracks that features intuitive composition and production to create an almost classical feel. ”Cut” is another song that features the soul of GOF without blatant influences shrouding the impact of the song and the intent. It also showcases the band’s ability to balance the soft and intense with the bold and indignant. This is where they are drawing their line in sand and saying enough is enough.
”No, you won’t bring me down. I will keep on fighting!”- “Cut”
This is a great first effort for these guys, because everyone has to start somewhere and there’s nowhere to go but up from here. This is how it starts, causing a ruckus, stirring up controversy and then hitting them with the goods, and GOF has only just begun. Regardless of how you feel about the recognizable brand of (mostly) radio-friendly rock, GOF is just getting started making waves. So, no, they aren’t for everyone, but they do seem to be part of the revitalization of a memorable time in rock history. Basically, if you’re missing the good old days with an edge, trip the light fantastic on the nostalgia highway with Girl On Fire and Not Broken.