Review Summary: The Blood Brother's twisted, fully developed masterstroke.
I know, I've taken that leap and called this album a classic, but through The Blood Brothers consistently shifting but always well executed discography (disregarding Rumours Laid Waste
), Burn, Piano Island, Burn
marks the sweet spot. They retain the oft flexed sheer aggression of This Adultery is Ripe
without being as limited, the soft, indie-esque roots that would come to prevail in Crimes
and an imagination and focus that reminds us why they hold a niche in post-hardcore, flawlessly sewn into the album's hybrid of genre and influence.
Johnny and Jordan's interplay is at its peak, before Jordan's role became understated in favour of Johnny's characteristic high pitch, from rapidly gabbling metaphoric ambiguities in USA Nails
to the sorrowful, epic climax that is the end of The Shame
, they rapidly fluctuate between shrill, piercing screams and their own independent singing styles, whilst always working as a duet. Critiquing their vocals as “gimmicky” is just a pessimistic way of dissenting their uniqueness. Lyrically, as always, the two excel. Shrouded in heavy imagery and poetic symbolism, the two's wordplay is as indecipherable to the issue as it is genius, each song holding its own dark, twisted and ofttimes downright zany identity:
murder = white out.
cancer = birth blouse.
mirror = perfect glass spouse.
oil = sex paint.
shower = water saint.
Death decodes the howls from our hands.
skull = noise nest.
TV = *** test.
mirror = siamese gun kiss.
sugar = birth bait.
murder = loves fate.
death distils the camouflage from our dance.
This individuality is conveyed just as much musically. Easily their most diverse work yet, The Blood Brothers still contain the frantic, unrestrained hardcore that made their first records such a high calibre, but now they push slower, more controlled portions into the frenzy, drawing a stark contrast and making each section more powerful then as a stand alone portion e.g. Jordan's measured murmurs halfway through Six Nightmares at the Pinball Masquerade
, avoiding the verging on repetitiveness of some of their earlier work. Indeed, from the moment you hear the jumpy, sharp tone of Votalato in ***ing's Greatest Hits
, you know this is a far cry from their previous grimy hardcore.
End to end, Votalato and Henderson's guitar and bass teaming is a wider, more complex experience. The bass still retains an integral component in the play, without becoming as overpowering as previously, witnessable especially in the title track, funky bass overlays leading into calming, plucked chords in the refrain. Votalato's screechy, manic guitar is a team player, rarely taking the lead but always adding to the overwhelming chaos of the song. The real surprise here for me though, rarely noted in this album's achievements, is the drum work of Mark Gajadhar. Never over reaching or sophisticated but none the less powerful, the drums haphazard, off tempo rhythm distorts otherwise uniform song structure into the panicked, harrowing rush that many songs descend into.
Throughout this, there's probably rife favouritism and no doubt there'll be disagreement over the acclaim I award this album, but The Blood Brothers held a personal energy and uniqueness on Burn, Piano Island, Burn
that remains unreplicated. Jordan's voice, quivering with trepidation, painting dark nightmares as Johnny screams his zany imagination into the mishmash of perfect instrumentation, like a battle in a schizophrenic's head, a relentless tirade against anything and everything whilst maintaining the composure to be focused and subtly diverse musicians in each personal, distinguishing track.
Everything is going to be just awful when we're around.
All the colors gonna rot off your sight when we're around.
I am just a salesman pleased to meet you can I show you around.
Every thing must go the shadows the seagulls when we're around.
This is our shame.