ALBUM: Panic Cell – Fire It Up

Release Date: April 5th, 2010
Label: Undergroove Records
Website: None available


Bulky Jager-chugging riff-merchants from the UK present their third record. One can’t help but sigh at the opening guitar part. Then again at the ominous guess-what’s-coming rhythm that joins it. Then again at the phallic struck ‘n’ rung power chord and the entry of the textbook metal drum beat. Then again at the forced Disturbed Lite, System Of A Dull vocal approach. Then again at the ego-steeped Shitriani solos. I am running out of patronising sighs. The opening track takes every last ounce of will power not to skip, but if you do it makes no difference, because it is more of the same.

The production is lifeless enough to suck out any illusion of live performance, thus castrating any potentially stonking riffs. The drums lack any punch and the guitar tones are homogeneous and flat. ‘Splitting Skulls’ for example, has a blistering bass drum barrage that would be visceral if the bass drum actually boasted any low-end impact. Unfortunately, the vocals also contribute to pouring cold water on proceedings. The listener expects something remotely blood-curdling, but the shouts always seem somehow restrained, and the accompanying power chord play struggles to beef them up.

‘Forever’ opens with the record’s only adventure beyond samey tattooed MetalZone fodder, but intriguing monastery chanting and an exotic clean guitar part take around half a minute to retreat into the safety of sounding like every other track. ‘Jaded’ is another of those mandatory melodic changes of pace that come free with most metal albums; it opens with the only cameo of acoustic guitar, and the held back vocals sidestep from the growling Hetfields into Chad Kroeger city. Whether that’s better or worse is up to you.

As illustrated by all three of their albums, Panic Cell are content to throw the same material at their fans over and over, and in all fairness it is done with competence. They sit comfortably in an established genre and scene, and on these terms ‘Fire It Up’ is basically a success. Nonetheless, as exemplified by its title, the primary content of this album is awful Kerrang!-Gen macho posturing. It serves it purpose overall, but does absolutely nothing that your least favourite Metallica album doesn’t already do better.

“Lie to me”? Okay, Panic Cell, this album is killer.

Written by Michael Waters