Review Summary: Jimmy Ryan's heart and throat fall out.
The original Haste the Day is now in shambles. Only one founding member remains, the bassist Mike Murphy, and the band today hardly resembles the ground-breaking Haste the Day of 2004. Since the departure of vocalist Jimmy Ryan in 2006 the band has gone through numerous changes in both line-up and sound. But in 2004, with the release of their debut album Burning Bridges
, Haste the Day displayed a simple yet surprisingly mature sound, propelled by excellent use of the breakdown and the skin-crawling vocals of frontman Jimmy Ryan.
Understand that in 2004 the use of the breakdown was not bludgeoned to death by lip-ringed, hair straightened fourteen-year-olds riding the wave of br00tality and the success (if that’s what you want to call it) that br00tality brings now. Rather, the breakdown was truly brutal, an element that enhanced the music and provoked the listener not only to begin tapping his feet, but also to listen up. Burning Bridges
, then, is a perfect example of a band using the breakdown very well. Some might say it still appears too frequently, but taking into account the flow of the album and the varying lengths of each individual song, the breakdowns are infused to enhance, and they do just that. The examples are endless, but one on the album defines a well-placed breakdown. In "American Love", after about 2 minutes of beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies from the bassist, drummer, AND lead guitarist, the music stops, letting the listener take a breath (and perhaps letting itself take a breath), and then plunges into one of the most familiar breakdowns in hardcore music today. The plunge is perfectly timed, attacking the listener and preparing him for Jimmy Ryan’s final heart-wrenching plea: “Forgive me for running so quickly to the outside!”
What makes the final plea in "American Love" so heart-wrenching is not simply the apologetic lyrics. What makes it so heartfelt, so honest, and so damn catchy are the infallible vocals of Jimmy Ryan. His dog-with-rabies screech may take a moment to get used to, but when it takes hold, it never lets go. The scream is a refreshing sound in metalcore as well, straying from the low growl approach and allowing the vocals to actually portray emotion. Through the lyrics, Ryan pours out the contents of his heart, relating the trials and tribulations of his defeated drug addiction. But along with his heart, Ryan spills out the contents of his throat, ripping it to shreds and leaving no ounce of authenticity imagined. The combination of emotive lyrics and emotive-er vocals on Burning Bridges
truly accelerates the album.
Alongside the breakdowns and vocals, of course, there are the other elements of Burning Bridges
. The music is never mind-blowingly complex, but it manages to stay intriguing while remaining simple and straight-forward. Every riff or bassline is placed exceptionally, and the songwriting displayed on the album shows the bands affinity for writing catchy, fun, and interesting tracks. The drums are tight as well, never over-played but still commanding respect, especially when the double bass accompanies one of the many superb breakdowns. The clean vocal sections of Burning Bridges also add to the album’s entirety, as they provide a superb alternative to the harsh vocals of Ryan. The cleans are sung by three members of the band, and vocal harmonies are used to add to the beauty of these passages.
When all is said and done, Burning Bridges
is a prime example of a well-written, well-performed album. Jimmy Ryan and the crew share an intimate piece of music with the listener, and the vocals of Mr. Ryan are alone worth the price of admission. Take heed not to skip over Burning Bridges
because of its “metalcore” label. This album is a well-oiled machine, a tour de force, and a beautiful harmony all in one. Listen up.