On their debut album, the Cheyenne, Wyoming quartet First Decree deliver a straightforward set of muscular hard rock injected with youthful idealism. With a bevy of influences -- from Creed and Alter Bridge to Sevendust and Avenged Sevenfold -- the young band updates the sound of early-aughts modern rock with This Is Our Rise (3Thirteen Entertainment Group). Vocalist Travis James brings soulful maturity to the crushing tunes pumped out by the classically trained brothers Lopez-Smith (Dane on guitar, Zach on drums, and Isaac on bass). On "Bring Me Down," the strength of James' voice rises over a wailing guitar solo and a pummeling barrage of drums before the whole band declares in unison, "We have come to rule tomorrow/From what we have learned today." The youthful spirit and energy are palpable here, with an earnest purity running through each track. The music may be heavy and the themes typical of this ilk (distraught youth, identity crises, feelings of not belonging) but, compared to contemporaries in the genre, the band doesn't sound completely disillusioned yet. This genuineness is refreshing. Though they sound like a much older, wiser band (especially evident on the depth of James' singing on "Flesh and Bone" and album opener "Here We Go Again"), First Decree's strength is in their relative inexperience: they're hungry, full of hope, with eyes on their rise.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung