In Chrysalis (Initial Records 1998)
Boy Sets Fire

By Jason Koerner

This five-song EP is a very powerful piece of work from Boy Sets Fire. The name of the band alone sparks a notion that the music found on the CD will be authoritative, to say the least. The cover art, lyrics and photographs on the inside are a nice touch to the package, illustrating the band on and off-stage, as well as giving way to a striking picture of someone urinating off a railroad bridge! The tracks were recorded at Carriage House Studios in Stanford, CT; and the album sounds very professional.

The first track, "Voiceover," is probably the most eye-popping of the five. An introduction of harmonics is quickly replaced by the screams of angst of Nathan Gray. It is necessary to read the words to understand the meaning of the song, unless you have a natural talent for understanding screaming, but it is worth your time to check them out. The lyrics are outspoken complaints about the state that our country is in, as far as the media and politics go, anyway. Full of rage and time changes, the band shows off its tightness and ability to start and stop the rhythm, while carrying the audiences' emotions with them.

"The Tyranny of What Everyone Knows" gives an introductory solo to the talented drummer Matt Krupanski, as the drums sound super good in stereo on this recording. The song is a good representation of the band's style, and also resembles many different elements of other groups, without ripping off anyone. Imagine the vocal strength of local heavies My Own Victim, the speedy E-chord straight-8th note riff interludes of old Metallica and the addition of the harmonizing guitars and style of Boy Sets Fire.

"Loser of the Year Award" shows a cleaner vocal pattern without losing the intensity of the music or the messages within. A vivid description of life on the road as a struggling band trying to make it is given in the linear notes beside this song. "Cavity" is perhaps the smoothest song on the album and sends a positive message ("...don't take this light away, it never did you any harm...") despite the description of the band's experience with a "Maximum Rock n Roll" interview of another band. That band that spent "several paragraphs talking about how lame Boy Sets Fire is and how they are never going to change anything." I think that "Cavity" and other songs have the potential to speak for themselves in retaliation for that attack.

"Holiday in Cambodia" is the last track featured on this CD, and it allows Darrell Hyde to show off his bass work in the opening, while Josh Latshaw and Chad Istvan fill the high-end gaps with their dual guitar licks, weaving in and out of harmonies.

The band gives much credit to the Dead Kennedys for their influence, both politically and musically. They also state their disgust for the separation of the hardcore/punk scene and try to show that everyone within this realm has something in common: "We have seen society and we don't like it."

That's what the music has all been about from the start, anyway. This is definitely a CD that you should check out, not only for the music, but also to support local labels and musicians.