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Fire! – The Hands album review

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Since coming together in 2008, Sweden’s Fire! have gleefully rebooted the power trio format to mate raging free jazz skronk with the monolithic power of Sabbath’s first album. Like a modern day Cream, each player gets an equal shout between super prolific sax titan Mats Gustafsson’s coruscating Ayler-like roars, Johan Berthling’s earth-shuddering basslines and Andreas Werliin’s drum hoodoo. Now on their sixth album since 2009’s You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (not counting their behemoth Fire! Orchestra spinoff), the trio follow 2016’s She Sleeps She Sleeps with seven sensitively brutal missives from the dark side, building on the title track’s template of Berthling’s colossal gouge, Werliin’s umbilical percussion and the full- throated elemental roar that’s taken Gustaffson to play with giants like Peter Brotzman. The three reach maximum thrust in the churning cauldron of the gloriously- titled Washing Your Heart In Filth or Up. And Down. sounding like early Van der Graaf on a daytrip to Hades, although they’re equally effective going dirt-slow funereal on To Shave The Leaves. In Red. In Black or spatial closer I Guard Her To Rest. Declaring Silence., Berthling swooning on double bass.