FEAR NOT: Fields of Sorrow

Fear Not. I remember the first time I heard their iconic debut release back in 1993. The melodies, the monstrous catchy hooks, the cutting lyrics, the poignant message about the state of the world delivered with the Mötley Crüe musical kick-ass attitude and the patented Elefante brothers production sheen. It was a light in a dark time for hard rock and metal – one that (for me, at least) would shine bright for a long, long time. The message and music captured the essence of that era in a sobering, yet hopeful light.

But then the world of rock and metal changed … we moved into the turbulent decade of uncertainty, grunge, alterna-rock/metal and everything else. While these changes didn’t stop the most well-equipped and determined from keeping the fire lit, they did snuff the flame of creativity on a lot of bands’ careers. I can’t help but suspect Fear Not was one such band – so much potential, so much talent, so little time.

Grace Notes: A few years after its release, Fear Not’s self-titled debut became the soundtrack for my journey from San Antonio to Houston, TX to take my initial set of exams for board certification in Internal Medicine. I’m not exactly sure why I picked that album for the drive, but I suspect it had a lot to do with the musical punch and the inspiring, extremely “sing-able” lyrics! Just one of those albums that gets you in the right mindset for a victory! [Yep, passed the exam on the first try!!]

Fields of Sorrow

Thankfully, time isn’t always the enemy. So many years later Fear Not reunited with all their innovations, talents and songwriting gifts intact. Yes, and they also landed a new singer who embodies the vision of Fear Not perfectly. This re-union/union produced 2019’s extremely solid EP For the Wounded Heart. Those 5 songs set the standard very high for what we could expect from a new full-length release. Despite the barriers over the past 3 years created by the pandemic, Fields of Sorrow has arrived and it not only meets all expectations but surpasses them in every way.

First, the mix and sound quality are superb as the band has once again teamed up with Kyle Simpson. The opening “Riptide” hits the ears with a massive wall of rock n roll crush, layers of guitars and vocals abound – an immediate throw-back to Fear Not’s debut. In some ways, this opening track at least, reminds me of Red Sea as well from that same era.

“Voluntary Madness” follows with monster hooks, sweet guitar leads and a heavy slow groove – slightly more contemporary in style, Gary Hansen’s flams add an edginess to the mix mirroring the craziness reflected in the lyrics. The title track similarly features more of these amazing guitar and bass grooves alongside catchy vocal choruses – this time Green (or is that Worley?) adding a bit of harshness to his voice in a few areas.

“Lay It All Down” has that semi-ballad quality, one of the more dynamic songs here. I love how the song builds in intensity throughout as Hansen seemingly picks up the pace, the intensity of his rhythms, once the band hits the guitar solo section. The ride out from there is sweet!

One of the coolest songs here is the cover of Pete Townshend’s “Join Together” where the band puts this huge guitar groove up against the almost worshipful vocals of Green. The net effect changes the trippy/hippie vibe of the original into this powerhouse rock praise/worship song!

And that is just the first half of the album!

With “Black Soul Sunshine” the sounds of Red Sea/Die Happy once again resonate with my ears. The guitars in this song shred and Green belts out some of his most soulful cries on the album (sounds kind of like Robyn Kyle Basauri!).

“Beautifully Broken” is another semi-ballad with a bit of a country rock vibe, huge vocals, another killer guitar solo and a wonderfully inspiring message. “Struggle” is a nice companion song and deals with similar issues of self-doubt, failure of faith, and “the struggle” to change. Again, though, these guitar leads and solos are brilliant.

The slow grinder “Into the Grave” has that post-grunge late ‘90’s heavy rock vibe (Creed/Alter Bridge), Green sounding a bit like Scott Stapp here, especially on the chorus. This is meant as a compliment – my implication being that the vocals here, and all over this recording really, are massive fill-arena, type projections. Very impressive!

The bonus tracks include a reprise of “Carry Me” from the EP and a cover of “God’s Country,” which feels somewhat out of place here musically but does tie in thematically with the “American Prayer” – a warm acoustic guitar driven exhortation (based on 2 Chronicles 7:14) to repent, turn from sin, remember the freedoms we’ve been granted and unite in faith, love and unity.

The Vinyl

This turned out fantastic! Those who listen to vinyl regularly are quite familiar with inconsistencies in quality of the digital to analog transfer and partly explains why so many of us in the vinyl camp prefer the original analog versions of our favorite music. But for new music and for music only previously available in digital formats the vinyl versions can be hit or miss, vinyl reissues often sounding too much like CDs pressed to wax.

And then there is the issue of surface noise, warping or spooning. Thankfully, as more and more records are being produced again, the manufacturing process has improved – much of the heavier weight vinyl doesn’t suffer the deformity issues and noisy surface records (despite adequate cleaning – yes, you should clean new vinyl) are becoming less common.

All that in consideration, Fields of Sorrow has been wonderfully rendered into vinyl – the EQ near perfect thanks to Rob Colwell. The warmer bass tones, best appreciated with either headphones or speakers with significant bass output, really power through without drowning out the vocals. The black vinyl surface is free of manufacturing defects or discolorations and the song grooves free of surface noise. Once again, I like these black, poly-lined inners Roxx and Retroactive have been using lately better than the printed inner sleeves that always suffer seam bursts in shipping and create a lot of static on the record. Single lyric insert included with full liner notes/credits.

Of note, the vinyl does include all 12 tracks present on the CD.

In summary, Fear Not has delivered an incredibly impactful and world-class collection of melodic hard rock filled with Spirit-infused truths and encouragements. Along with Reign of Glory – All Will Bow (melodic metal bliss) and Thee Final Chaptre – So Let it be Done (power prog metal brilliance) add Fields of Sorrow to a growing list of primo releases (with more to come!) so far this year.


Track Listing:

1. Riptide (3:54)

2. Voluntary Madness (4:10)

3. Fields of Sorrow (3:09)

4. Lay it all Down (3:56)

5. Join Together (4:09)

6. Black Soul Sonshine (4:41)

7. Beautifully Broken (4:32)

8. Struggle (3:57)

9. Into the Grave (4:24)

10. American Prayer (4:30)


11. God’s Country (3:44)

12. Carry Me (Reprise) (4:15)

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