I had a copy of Wishfire the first day it was available. I had every intention of listening to it with a pen in hand, and having a review ready before anyone else had ever heard it. . . well, that didn't work out so well. There's a story in Greek mythology about the music of sirens which lure sailors from their way; a mere whisper of their voices, and everything else slips from your mind and your reality. Such was the experience I had with Wishfire. It's been months since I heard it, and even now I find myself fumbling to even begin to express my reaction. I am a writer by temperment, but here I am nearly mute.
This is without doubt in my mind the Cruxshadows' best album.
It maintains the power and coherency of "Telemetry of a Fallen Angel" but adds to it an increased musical maturity and a far greater grasp on production, musicianship, and style. It surpasses "Mystery of the Whisper" in the sophistication of its theology and emotion, in its melding of "gothic" and religious and social themes with intelligent lyricism and interesting music. The range of styles presented is impressive, and nearly any individual should be able to find something they enjoy. I cannot comprehend, reading over the other reviews, any thought pattern in which this album suffers in comparison to Rogue's previous work. (Mind, I am quite a fan of his first two albums as well)
Wishfire has songs that parallel the purposes of any good song on the first two albums, and usually it is better. As social commentary and as a dancing song "Resist/r" far surpasses "Leave me Alone," and the message is better to attend. As a song of tragedy and transcendence, "4th Phase" (and here I risk being quite frowned at by fans, I think) is a much better song than "Marilyn..." and there are many songs on the album far easier to dance to, especially for the rhythm impaired. . . .
Perhaps the problem is that this is NOT, and cannot be, his first works, it is something transcending those, and continuing on. . .
Again, I am at a loss for words. . . What Telemetry began, Wishfire brings to completion. Telemetry, which I think may remain my second favorite album in the cannon, is musically raw and... well, one can see why NIN is credited in the "thanks to" section. It's a jugular piece of work, as befitting the story of a sentient machine which takes on the role of the dying (anti?)messiah god and crashes into the surface of a wasted red planet. <i>Telemetry<i> goes from a place of power and pseudo-security and falls into the most profound of despairs. . . It is the story of Prometheus bound, the story of Icarus fallen, the story of Eurydice slain...... and then there is Mystery.
It is said that every great story starts in the middle... I have often considered Mystery to be not quite a continuation, not quite a revery/hallucination of a falling ship, not quite a flash back, not quite a new discovery... some dreaming combination of them. . . and with Mystery all the various little works -- Paradox Addendum and Intercontinental Drift/Echoes&Artifacts and so forth -- a ship lost in the mists skipping from place to place, learning. . . Shadows on a metaphorical cave wall . . . you'll have to forgive me, for 5 months I've been thinking in colours. And there's various styles tried out, and various old things reworked, and especially with Mystery there's quite a departure from the rawness of Telemetry. It's far more "gothy" I suppose.....
And NOW-then, there is the Wishfire. . . Where Telemetry is the story of the Angel fallen, Wishfire is the story of the Angel returned triumphant. The music style has changed, of course, because the music of a sentient angel machine crashing into a desert is not the sound of a transcendent godling returning to earth. There's a certain Major Tom sort of feel to it, I suppose... Within the loss, within the mind-scarring battles, a victory was forged. This music is so much more -- alive -- than much music in the genre. The first three songs are incredible, heart-racing, paeans of triumph and war and messianic fervor (not in that order). I wouldn't at all categorize them as interchangeable, however. Binary is very complex musically compared to Seraphs, and very different in tone and mood and message. They are however, very much part of the same song cycle. If this were theater, they would belong in the same opera.
Then there's Spectators. I love Spectators. I don't actually feel like it belongs where it is in the song cycle, though that's not Rogue's fault. . . It's quite a departure from anything else found on the album: I think a lot of people will like it.
Getting back into the work, after a tremendous return from tragedy and fall, the work reaches outwards to explore the causes of loss and the need to create one's own personal morning -- From that point onward, the work vacillitates between triumph and despair, rising and falling... and the dedication not the lose one's self in that cycle... "I know this is the last time--" it's the need to be willing to find faith and belief in the face of overwhelming odds, and be willing to overcome the cycle of anger and rage that destroys the world. (Resist/r is, I think, philosophically related to Cruelty... that's a long story)
Where Telemetry is the story of Prometheus bound, this is the story of Prometheus fire-bringer, unbound at last. It is the story of Icarus risen, or the cultic Orpheus transcendent, of Osiris resurected.....
That is as far as I can go, at the moment. It's three o'clock int he morning, I can't sleep, I can't think... So much of what I want to say is still sitting there staring at me and refusing to be put into coherent sentences. Maybe I will try to draw or photograph it, somehow. But I promised I would have the review done in less than six months. So.... here it is for now.
As for my rating, out of 5 stars, I would give this a 6 and then take one off for the very minor flaw of having stuck Spectators in the wrong place.... It remains, however, more perfect of a work than most, and in my mind undeniably the band's best work to date.