Pictured left to right: Eddie Masterson, Bryce Mirabella and Ryan DeCesare rehearsing in their house. / Copyeditor Berry Andres

The Glassboro-based band, Earth on Fire, has won a set at Hollybash after placing first at Battle of the Bands. The competition took place at the Chamberlain Student Center on March 26 and was organized by Rowan After Hours.

The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Eddie Masterson, bassist Bryce Mirabella, and drummer Ryan DeCesare. The trio formed in October 2021, motivated by their experiences in the local Glassboro music scene. Their sound is complex yet accessible, and the band’s desire to push boundaries and try new ideas is central to their musical process.

“The three of us are constantly pushing each other to do some crazy stuff… we’ll just have out-of-the-box ideas that sometimes can be half-joking,” Mirabella said.

It is ideas such as those which resulted in a polyrhythm being tacked onto the end of “Unwanted Destiny,” an unreleased song that the band performed at Battle of the Bands. Despite the daunting prospect of a spur-of-the-moment polyrhythm, this type of approach is right in Earth on Fire’s wheelhouse as a math rock band. Math rock is a genre derived from progressive rock, emo and post-hardcore that is characterized by frequent time signature changes. These time signatures can be so complex that they can make artists feel like they’re doing math.

The complexities of Earth on Fire’s music are composed within the framework of melodies that give each song a clear direction and recognizability. There is a touch of intensity that is really brought to the forefront in a live setting, so the audience of a typical Earth on Fire show is moved to mosh rather than count out time signatures. That energetic live show is also developed by Masterson’s continuous dialogue with the crowd, his infectious enthusiasm and his tendency to move around a lot on stage.

“I kind of live by the philosophy, when it comes to playing shows, that you can sacrifice your sound a little bit if you bring the energy… [fans] don’t want to hear the same exact thing, they want to hear something different. They want a reason to go out and listen, to catch us live,” Masterson said.

Earth on Fire released a self-titled EP on February 25. The songs on the EP were born out of a collaborative process, as Earth on Fire found themselves settling into a system that allowed for everyone’s ideas to be brought to the table. Although consisting of songs that were written and conceptualized separately, the sonic and emotional similarities, along with the tracklisting, gave the EP the effect of a continuous experience and complete package. In fact, the song order was something the band all agreed upon instantly.

“The whole flow of an album to me is just as important as the songs themselves. The way it flows, I feel, is perfect. Having ‘St. Helena,’ the instrumental, as the closer was a no-brainer,” Mirabella said. 

The band members feel that Earth on Fire’s first-place finish is a recognition of the hard work they put into their music. Although the competitive aspect was different, they were up for the challenge.

“I feel like it was more nerve-wracking, but we prepared the same way we normally would,” DeCesare said. “At the end of the day, we’re just up there having a good time.”

The competition also featured six other bands who put on impressive performances. In second place was Red Malachy, who made their live debut with a collection of well-played covers. Thrilling instrument virtuosity along with powerful vocals made them a highlight of the night. In third place was Particle Effect, whose strong songs and a surprise saxophone solo made an impression on the crowd. There was a clear camaraderie between the bands who share the local scene, and this was emphasized by Masterson’s statement as he accepted first prize.

“The Glassboro music scene is better than it has ever been before… this is our lives,” he said.

Earth on Fire will be playing at The Room at Harper’s Pub in Clementon, New Jersey on April 2, and Rowan students can see them for free at Hollybash on April 22. You can follow the band on Instagram @earthonfire.nj and stream their music on Spotify and Apple Music.

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