Raise Your Lighters to Freedom and the Ferrymen

by delarue

The Ferrymens’ new album One More River to Cross – streaming at Spotify – is total 80s. Crunchy guitars mingle with lush electronic orchestration, with salvos from Primal Fear head honcho Magnus Karlsson’s frets flying skyward. This concept album follows a familiar path, a hero’s journey fraught with detours and trouble. Kind of like what’s happening in Canada right now, except that this story is a very old one. The sad reality is that it’s no less relevant than it was in the pagan north two thousand years ago.

The album’s opening track, One Word begins with agitated horror-film piano awash in string synth, setting the stage for pummeling guitar and drums. Frontman Ronnie Romero goes for fullblown Bruce Dickinson operatics while Karlsson throws in boxcutter pickslides before going off into a giant whippit of tapping. “One word can destroy you,” Romero insists.

The survivor’s anthem The Last Wave is a pop song in heavy disguise: switch out the guitars for strings and this could be a Tina Turner ballad from the 80s. Mike Terrana’s drums cascade under the trebly snap of the bass in Shut It Out, Romero telling us it’s time to break away from the noise and get focused. “Let someone else be the hero,” is the message here.

“There’s no place to hide in the City of Hate.” Romero roars, a situation that anyone who “came here to be somebody else” can relate to. The album’s title track kicks off with a big action movie riff: the message is that what doesn’t kill you, etc. Bass comes to the forefront, ushering in toxic washes of sound in the slowly swaying, guardedly hopeful Morning Star.

Hunt Me to the End of the World seems more like a dis to a stalker than a political adversary. Bringers of the Dark refers to the revolutionaries who will not be deterred: they’re going to rampage back every night. “Your kingdom, your prison, it doesn’t really matter…there’s no escape from your own dreams, you can’t run from your fantasy,” Romero tells a nameless Klaus Schwab type.

The narrative hits fever pirch in The Other Side: who’s going to survive the inevitable confrontation? The band pick up the pace in The Last Ship: it looks like all hope is not lost. The story comes to a close with The Passenger (an original, not the Iggy Pop classic) – where there’s a surprise revelation. Or maybe not. Some people will hear this and say, good grief, didn’t we leave this stuff behind thirty-five years ago? Nope. And with the state of the world right now, maybe we shouldn’t.