Grand Unification

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If one had not known the origins of the band Fightstar, one would be hard pushed to guess that not too many years prior to releasing the hardcore rock album Grand Unification, Charlie Simpson had been lapping up the adoration of teenage girls in a boy band. Admittedly, Busted had slightly more substance than Westlife or A1 but after years of releasing punk influenced pop with a schooldays theme, the debut Fightstar album had more in common with Funeral for a Friend, Machine Head, and Slipknot than Busted and McFly, which was hardly surprising as they had brought in Colin Richardson as producer, a man who had worked with all the former bands. The debut single to be released was "Paint Your Target" which caused some controversy when the video depicted some school children engaged in a war. There is no hint of what is to follow as the album opened with a dreamy acoustic instrumental, "To Sleep," and then the feedback of Alex Westaway's guitar crashed in and the first part of "Grand Unification" arrived. The second part, later in the album, had a spoken interlude and a softly sung melody over a chilled out song that wouldn't have been out of place on a Coldplay album, at least its first two minutes. Between the two parts was a hard rock album -- what might have once been called thrash metal, but now might be called emo -- with heavy hitting guitar chords and screamed vocals. It's not quite as angry as Slipknot, but not too far behind, either, although "Build an Army" certainly sounds like a call to arms. If this was what Charlie Simpson had inside him, no wonder he wanted out of Busted. [The CD was also released with a bonus track.]

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