The Dreaded Press Review 'Man Vs. Monster'
Fighting With Wire made a huge splash with this début album, and with good reason - 'Man Vs Monster' has a confidence and individuality that few Brit-punk bands can match on their third full length record, let alone their first.
To leap into the pop-tinged end of the post-hardcore swimming pool and displace this much water is even more of an achievement, simply because it’s such a crowded environment at the moment. But that saturation of sameness has worked in favour of Fighting With Wire by priming audiences with average product; the end result being that - when an album as good as 'Man Vs Monster' finally drifts by - everyone leaps on it as hard as possible.
And yes, it really is that good. Fighting With Wire are full of the wasps-in-the-trousers get-up-and-go that comes from throwing your heart and mind into doing something as best you can, and 'Man Vs Monster' effervesces with youthful energy, bouncing between emotional highs and lows like a lovesick small-town teenager.
I think Fighting With Wire’s success lies in playing pop without pandering to it, without compromising the ‘punk’ side of their nature in the name of commercial viability. 'Man Vs Monster' is packed with great pop hooks with jagged edges; compared to their Stateside equivalents, the guitars have an authentic crunch and bite instead of glossy studio polish, and the vocals stand defiant without the help of layers of digital harmony and pitch correction. It’s pop that you can believe in without stretching your credulity.
But their astonishing ear for a great riff or melody is Fighting With Wire’s ace in the hole. Structurally they play with the angular twang of the British brand of post-hardcore, like an over-caffeinated Hundred Reasons without the wilful obtuseness, but at the level of notes and riffs they remind me very much of Kerbdog, who had the same seemingly-effortless grasp of catchy power that runs all through 'Man Vs Monster'.
It has uncomplicated rock belters like “All For Nothing” and the grungy kick of “Strength In Numbers”. It has the ultimate radio rock anthem in “Make a Fist”, a massively catchy tune that makes Lostprophets’ “Burn, Burn” sound like a boy-band B-side by comparison - not by being heavier or faster, but just by being acres more believable. Fighting With Wire even provide the perfect closing track in “The Body Is In Danger”, with earnest alt-rock balladeering giving way to stomping riffs, shouted vocals and mangled lead guitar that decays out through a lengthy outro into nothingness and muffled studio backchat.
'Man Vs Monster' is proof positive that melodic pop-punk doesn’t have to be over-produced saccharine crap to be more infectious than MRSA; Fighting With Wire deserve a place in your playlist.
- Paul Raven, The Dreaded Press
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