When Dissolution appeared in 2018, the Pineapple Thief had fully integrated drummer Gavin Harrison (King Crimson, Porcupine Tree) into their midst as a composing and arranging member. His contribution assisted in making the album the band's most successful critically and commercially. (It went to number one on the U.K. Rock and Metal Albums chart.) Prior to its release, TPT were only marginally accepted by the prog rock community, despite being categorized under the genre's banner. Dissolution's musically and lyrically complex conceptual look at our technology-obsessed society broke the barrier; it propelled the band into the prog mainstream and they sold out all 16 dates on their European tour. Hold Our Fire is culled from those performances.
This is an intense live staging of Dissolution played (mostly) in sequence. The only omission is the brief "Pillar of Salt," which was an outlier on the original recording too. The running order is changed ever so slightly in "I'm Not Naming Any Names" coming sixth instead of first. The sequence begins instead with "Try as I Might" and adds traveling guitarist George Marinos to the lineup, which provides frontman/guitarist Bruce Soord an agile freedom. As evidenced by these performances, TPT is firing on all cylinders: Harrison's interplay with exploratory bassist Jon Sykes and painterly keyboardist Steve Kitch is revelatory in framing the theatrical drama at work in these songs. The tension between guitarists in "Threatening War" is exploded by Harrison's propulsive fills and hammering accents. "Far Below" is introduced by a power chord vamp before Kitch's Mellotron adds ballast and texture to the melody without sacrificing the sheer power of Sykes' decorative stabs or the pointillistic back and forth between Harrison and Marinos as Soord hurls his lyrics at the crowd like Molotov cocktails. At more than ten minutes, "White Mist" is a prog labyrinth. Guitars and keyboard syncopate with Harrison's drum kit to create a bridge to Soord's throaty, almost menacing vocal. The only non-Dissolution track here is "3,000 Days" (from 2010's Someone Here Is Missing). The band's instrumental muscle transforms a fine indie rock tune into a knotty workout as Sykes, Kitch, and Marinos push the tune into the visceral terrain of prog metal. Harrison's syncopated beats propel Soord into his most expressive vocal here, before double-timing his bandmates with breaks, rolls, and edgy fills during the bridge. The track explodes with a fury not normally associated with TPT. Plenty of bands issue de rigueur live recordings as a way of keeping fans engaged between studio outings. Hold Our Fire isn't one of those; instead it's a powerful exposition of Dissolution as a living work by a band at their musical and interpretive best.