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TWO FIRES
IGNITION

Frontiers Records FRCD 108
Produced by: Kevin Chalfant

Released: Feb. 22 / Website
Closest Relative: The Storm, Melodica
GENRE: AOR
OVERALL: 86%

  1. Ignition
  2. Somewhere Far Away
  3. More Than A Mystery
  4. You're Bringing Me Down
  5. I'm Falling
  6. I See Red
  7. This Night
  8. The Man I Want To Be
  9. I Will Remember You
  10. What The World Needs To Know

Kevin Chalfant is a voice to be respected. His work with The Storm, The VU and live with many others has provided AOR fans with hours of listening pleasure.
Chalfant's work with The Storm gave the singer a lot of exposure and a lot of well deserved high praise. Those albums remain classics to this day.
In Two Fires, Kevin re-teamed with The Storm guitarist Josh Ramos and the pair went about recapturing the sound of that band. The debut Two Fires album was released and was naturally instantly compared to The Storm's two albums.
Well, at least, that's how I and several others viewed it. But, in fact, it was probably a little unfair of me to do so, as these are two different bands. One big point is that the difference in recording budget was at least 10 times more with The Storm and the songs (without Storm co-writer Gregg Rolie) also a little different.
The debut album was a solid album of pure melodic AOR, with some catchy numbers. Josh and Kevin have a solid bond and on the second album have changed one of the main points of criticism levelled at them after the release of the debut - the song writing.
Ignition features the same delivery style of the debut - that is, very smooth, mid tempo AOR, but with a twist.
There is far better variation in the songs, second time around. Ignition features some big ballads and anthems, plus some softer moments.
But it also features some far darker and moodier moments, which have added texture and balance to the album as a whole. It has made the album's 'journey' a little less predictable and lets the guys show more of what they are capable of.
Jim Peterik co-writes 7 of the album's 10 tracks with Kevin.
However, there is no doubt there will still be some considerable debate over this release. The subject of that debate will be the production quality of the album.
Some won't care, others might. The sound overall isn't as polished as the debut, in fact it is considerably rawer.
Now depending on your outlook, this may or may not figure in your thinking at all. The songs are certainly first rate, as are the continuous harmonies, Kevin's ever powerful hook filled vocals and Josh's more diverse rhythm and lead guitar work.
Track By Track:
Ignition kicks off the album, with a big traditional rock n roll intro. This lead song and title track was actually recorded after the bulk of the rest of the album and features guest players, drummer Kenny Arnoff and guitarist Michael Gardner, plus organ/synth player Chuck Giacinto.
Funnily enough, this is the best sounding track of the album, with a slightly better production quality than the remaining songs. Kevin's vocals are all over the song, working his magic especially well in the powerful chorus.
Somewhere Far Away is a song where the voice rules the day and leads the song through it's various hooks and melodies. An example of traditional uptempo, hook filled AOR.
More Than A Mystery is the first example of the guys stretching their boundaries. This mid-tempo piano-lead ballad is dark and brooding, leading into a pure 80's keyboard driven chorus.
You're Bringing Me Down is an uptempo AOR rock track that Kevin wrote solo. I am particularly fond of the chorus, which is quite in your face, while staying true to the mood of the song.
I'm Falling is the big sentimental ballad of the album. Just what candle waving fans call for and one of the better ballads I have heard Kevin sing and write. This is a major love song!
I See Red features a raw and bluesy guitar lead from Josh, which sets the tone of the song. This is a tough talking, tough sounding rock track with a stylish and emotional chorus.
This Night is a more easy going number, with another very 80's, very smooth chorus that, style wise, once again sets this record apart from the debut.
The Man I Want To Be is the album's second big ballad. This one is particularily emotional and filled with a great spirit. The chorus has hooks all over it and features another strong vocal performance.
I Will Remember You is straight from the AOR handbook and reminds me of the best parts of the debut album. Lots of hooks, lots of vocal melodies and a great up tempo feel good approach.
What The World Needs To Know is a great song to finish the album. This is one of Kevin's best vocal performances of the album and with the backing of a choir, the song really comes to life. Bound to become a sentimental favourite, this is a great AOR song.
Rhythm Of The World is a hidden bonus track and features the guys stretching out again, in tune with a melodic rock song, but with some definite outside influences. I'll leave you to discover the song yourselves!
BOTTOM LINE: I am quite happy with this release. The songs are some of the best Kevin has written and the team formed between him and Jim Peterik is one I hope will continue and grow. Josh Ramos has also supplied some heavily melodic guitar riffs that will please more AOR fans.
In terms of melodic releases, there aren't too many absolute pure AOR releases these days, so Two Fires should be warmly embraced.
But all said and done, it would be even better if songs and performances of this quality could be highlighted by a huge production job.
If that was the case, there would be little difference between this album and the now classic The Storm albums.
PRODUCTION: 73% SONGS: 93% VIBE: 85%ATTITUDE: 90%
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of the debut and fans of Journey style pure AOR.
DISCOGRAPHY:707; Solo; The VU; The Storm; Two Fires - Two Fires . Ignition


25/06/04: guillermo - guillerperez@usuariosretecal.es
Rating: 85
sobresalen more than a mistery y el tema oculto en onda night ranger el resto del album es demasiado aor y desestructurado.

22/12/03: John K - badco2004@hotmail.com
Rating: 83
I've had quite awhile to digest this album. I was a little more impressed by the self titled "Two Fires" disc from 2000. First off, I don't particulary like the production of this album. This really drags the album down from what it could and should be. Many have made the same comment and I agree 100%. I believe at least a quarter of the songs seem to get off to a great start only to lose focus/intensity. The first release from Two Fires was played continously for 6 months. This latest release has spent less considerable time in my car or at home. Now, that's not to say this isn't a good album. But I think it could have been even better. Song highlight's would be "More than a mystery","Your bringing me down", "This night" and "The man I want to be". The closing song "What the whole world needs to know" starts off with an awesome chord progression that takes the listener back to the days of Journey's "Infinity/Evolution/Departure" period. Do yourselves a favor and get this album. I would definetly recommend buying this album. Can't wait for what Kevin's comes up with next.

22/06/02: Mike - mikeybear68@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
This album is superior to the first Two Fires album and the songs are fuller and very good. The uptempo tracks in particular show the growth in both writing and playing of Kevin Chalfant & Johs Ramos. Although the production quality isn't perfect, this album is certainly much better than the "so-called" music that the American music industry is attemtpting to push on the public. Any fan of Journey will definately hear the influences on this album, especially "I Will Remember You." I would absolutely recommend Ignition to any melodick rock fan, especially those fans of Journey & The Storm.

31/05/02: Lindsay - lindsay@jamison.fsnet.co.uk
Rating: 75
I must admit I thought this was a 1 off project that would never see a 2nd release. How wrong can I be, the first cd sold heaps and there is no reason that Ignition should not do the same. More of the same is on the menu with the journey influence to the fore. Mr Chalfont & Mr Ramos have set their stall out once againand you get nothing new or original just high quality melodic aor. This will please fans of the genre . Chalfonts voice is excellent throughout and shines on songs like "I'm falling" and "I will remember you", but you would expect nothing else from a seasoned pro.Will we see a third release, lets hope so as anything Mr Chalfont does is ok by me.Lets just hope he has a bigger recording budget next time so he can pay somebody to do a better production job.

08/05/02: Neil - falkeeins@aol.com
Rating: 92
The series of 'negative' reviews here has prompted me to write...Ignition may sound under-produced to those expecting Storm-style ( dare I say it ) blandness, but to these ears the sound has a sorely needed 'bite' and edge, which combined with the marvellous melodies and THE voice make this my top release so far of 2002...(this CD has been pulled out of the rack far more often than the new Harem Scarem & Mecca CDs )

24/04/02: Kevin - rrchas2@yahoo.com
Rating: 88
TWO FIRES - IGNITION

After the mega-classic "Eye of the Storm" album and Kevin Chalfant's different, but very good solo debut, I was really looking forward to the 1st Two Fires album. Kevin's vocals-as always-were first rate along with Josh's guitar, but aside from a few high points, a lot of the songs seemed cliched and lifeless to me. With the notice that Jim Peterik would be helping with the co-writing on this cd (and knowing how well "River of Destiny" came out on the debut cd), I had a feeling this might be something to watch out for.

Hearing the final product, the advance feelings came true. Songwise, this is Kevin Chalfant's best set of song since the 2nd Storm album, and his best overall vocal performance bar none. With Peterik's input, the songs are more direct, and sorta mix the Survivor sound with the Two Fires debut for a great rock cd that, while smooth, has a heavier edge than most of Chalfant's material.

The only disappointment here-as mentioned by practically everybody else-is the production…or lack thereof. For whatever reason, the production is very raw and the mix isn't very clear at all. When you are in arena rock mode, a bad production can kill the songs and the fact that they stand up as good as they do under the circumstances is a testament to the performances and songwriting. Just as a note, the rating here is affected by the very poor production/mix and would be a bit higher otherwise.


Song by song…

Ignition…The cd opens with a hard-hitting song that is a bit more direct that the songs on the Two Fires debut cd, with the Survivor sound shining through a bit. Kevin Chalfant sounds as good as ever and his vocals are the driving force in the song. His vocals reach a high pitch that he rarely ever uses during the chorus and take a little time to get used to. The chorus is a Two Fires/Survivor blend that works very well.

Somewhere Far Away….sounds a lot like the style from the Two Fires debut, but this song works better, IMO. Typical pop rock with a nice chorus using the strength of Chalfant's vocals to carry the song. The vocals have a bit of an effect of them on the bridge, but it works fairly well.

More Than a Mystery….This is a moody mid-tempo song that has a bit of the Jamison-era Survivor influence shining through. Not my favorite song on the cd, but it works fairly well.

You're Bringing Me Down….back to the heavier edge of the opening song with a moody verse and a big, hard-hitting chorus that really works in the song's favor. A larger production would have really helped this song, but it works very well even without the larger sound. Nice vocal by Chalfant, and one of the better songs here.

I'm Falling….The first big ballad of the album and a wonderfully-written sentimental song with a vocal to match. Sounds a lot like something you would get on a Storm cd and wouldn't sound out of place there. One of Chalfant's best vocal performances on the album and not much to complain about here at all.

I See Red….Heavy rock song with a scorching lead by Josh Ramos. The lyrics are pretty direct and the chorus is seriously rocking--and very catchy also. Very raw and unrefined and one of my favorites. Production is a bit lacking here and a bigger production would have taken this song to a higher level.

This Night….Fairly smooth-flowing mid-tempo song here that fits on this record, but not much to compare it to in relation to Chalfant's past work. The chorus is very nice and fits the song.

The Man I Want to Be…This ends up being a cross between a ballad and mid-tempo-though closer to ballad--and contains a vocal by Kevin Chalfant that is out of this world. The lyrics work perfectly and the vocal is spot on. Nice guitar work by Josh Ramos here under the verses and the lead soloing parts. The song is a bit rawer-sounding than The Storm…but matches the quality easily.

I Will Remember You…back to the uptempo rock and sounding a lot like the debut Two Fires cd. The production is seriously lacking here and the song suffers quite a bit. Not my favorite song here.

What the Whole World Needs to Know…..mega-ballad and probably Chalfant's best vocal on the album. Lyrics are really good-especially the HUGE chorus. The choir helps the song, but they are almost a little too low in the mix for the best effect.

Rhythm of the World….I'm guessing this song was hidden because it's a little different style to the rest of the album, but the quality is right up there with the listed songs. Has a bit of a latin groove to it and a rawer feel and vocal, but that is what makes it work.

15/04/02: Susumu - sfuku@d7.dion.ne.jp
Rating: 76
Two Fires' new album is not bad but songs are not super either.
The arrangement&production is not honed enough. The first track Ignition fit into this cats. Intro is nice but the development is thin. More Than A Mystery sounds like When Seconds era Survivor but it might have come from the tracks prime time Survivor wouldn't include as their album tracks. Somewhere Far Away and You're Bringing Me Down are great songs but even that sounds like repeating the similar chords. The Man I Want To Be and Rhythm of The World, however, are excellently made and lift this album close to Storm and Two Fires debut level. Anyway more radio airplay is needed to get Two Fires the recognition they deserve.

09/04/02: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 88
I can be very short about this one. Class all written about it !
AOR the way it should be ! Great songs, great musianship, great voice ! Only one minor point, the production is not that clear and should have been a lot better.
But otherwise, an essential release for every pure AOR fan !
Nuff said !

26/03/02: luca - luca.ferraro3@tin.it
Rating: 40
I have to agree with Greg.
The main problem here ain't the production (which is horrible btw, let alone the arrangements), but the songs: they basically sound as if they were all written and recorded in the span of 2 days, which is surprising considering the talents of those involved.
Of course Kevin's voice is as fabulous as ever but the hooks just ain't there.
My 2 cents...

23/03/02: Greg - gregm@earthlink.net
Rating: 60
Sorry, guys, but I must disagree. Even if the production were up to par, most of the songs fall flat. I'm as big a Chalfant fan as anyone, but I'm quite disappointed.

10/03/02: Dave O\'Leary - hgwy407@earthlink.net
Rating: 90
I could make an arguement that the music on this album is better than the last Two fires album. For that matter this album may be the best album for Chalfant and company since the first Storm disc. However, I'm going with Andrew here, the sound of the production is more in line with high quality demos than with a standard full production release. That's what brings the score down here. I put a compilation disc together with the Storm,The VU and Two Fires. The substandard production really came through when compared with the older releases. That said, songs like Ignition, I Will Remember, I See Red, This Night, The Man I Want To Be, Your Bringing Me Down, and the hidden bonus track, are all amazing songs and well worth the price of admission. Keven, if your listening, remix this disc or take it to the next level with the next release, please! Signed, a Fan......

07/03/02: Noddy - Jonferg@nortelnetworks.com
Rating: 82
If it wasn't for the dire production on this album (Yes, I did say dire!!) it would be a out and out winner. However, such is the awful quailty in places that the rythm section is inaudible and the wonderful Kevin Chalfant's vocals are painful to listen to during the opening track "Ignition". That aside, there are some escellent songs on this album. "More than a mystery" represents everything that is sheer class about Mr. Chalfant and his previous outfits - brooding, catchy, melodic - twenty years ago it would have been a classic. But forme, hidden track "Rhythm of the World" is the best song on the CD. An sassy, Santana style groover, it gives a welcome lift as the CD peters out towards the end.
A must for those who bought the debut, The VU and Storm CDs.

06/03/02: LUCA ZANOLLI - LUCA.ZANOLLI@ITALSEMPIONE.IT
Rating: 90
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FAR EASY TO RECORD ANOTHER CD LIKE THEIR FIRST EFFORT. THESE ARE POSSIBLY SOME OF THE MOST HEARTFELT SONGS KEVIN CHALFANT HAS HAVE EVER WRITTEN. JIM PETERIK'S TOUCH IS PRETTY EVIDENT. IT IS DEFINITELY A PITY THAT THE PRODUCTION LACKS. WITH A BIGGER BUDGET, THIS COULD HAVE BEEN A MAJOR HIT.


06/03/02: Scott - scottw@mfx.net
Rating: 86
I agree with Andrew. The only thing that drags down the score of this cd is the production. If you like the Storm or the first Two Fires cd or The VU then you will love this cd.


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