Review Summary: A superb debut album with a great balance of aggression and melody.
Finch are a rather interesting band to say the least. Throughout their relatively short career, they have produced some rather diverse sounding material, ranging from more Pop Punkish style stuff to some slightly more Alternative Metal type stuff (on their second album 'Say Hello To Sunshine'). However, the songs they wrote (for the most part) were bloody brilliant, to say the least. While several fans tend to praise 'Say Hello To Sunshine' as being superior to their debut album, 'What It Is To Burn', I find 'WIITB' a more enjoyable album.
While 'SSTS' was great, and was a much heavier album, this album has a better sense of melody, and a wider range of different sounds. SSTS was a little more consistent, but it felt pretty samey at times, and there were a few duds on that album. While there are a couple of duds on 'WIITB' as well, but this album has more stand out tracks in my opinion.
This album is pretty hard to place into a particular genre, since there are different songs that vary in different styles, straying from Post Hardcore to Pop Punk. 'New Beginnings', the opening track, for instance, is a more Post Hardcore track, but it oozes melody throughout, containing a really catchy chorus. This is followed up by 'Letters To You', which is one of the more accessible songs on the album, although there are a few screams thrown in for good measure. There is also a pretty big [L]Glassjaw[L] influence which shines through on the album, with Daryl Palumbo himself popping up on two tracks, 'Grey Matter' and 'Project Mayhem'. Both of these songs are highlights of the album, both containing singer Nate Barcelow's more melodic vocals with Palumbo's unmistakeable screams, which are a pretty good combo together.
As for Barecelow's singing as a whole, his melodic vocals work well on the more Pop Punk style songs such as 'Letters To You' and 'Stay With Me', but he is still able to lend his vocals to the more aggressive cuts, providing some great screams on tracks such as 'Perfection Through Silence', 'Without You Here', and title track 'What It Is To Burn'.
The guitar work is pretty good as well, having two guitarists really helps the band. Whereas quite a few bands have two guitars where one guitarist will be pulling off some amazing lead riffs while the other just chugs power chords, Finch put both guitarists to good use. A good example of this is the intro of 'Grey Matter', which features two different lead riffs interplaying each other.
If there's anything that lets this album down, it's the duds. There are about three songs which don't hold up to the other songs on the album. 'Awake' is the first of these. Not a bad song by any means, it just feels a bit dull, especially since it's crammed between 'Perfection Through Silence' and 'Without You Here', two of the best songs on the album. 'Untitled' is a bit dull as well, coming off the heals of the brutal 'Project Mayhem', it feels a bit bland. 'Ender' is probably the weakest song on the album, it has some great moments in it, but it just drags on and on, being about 10 or so minutes, and gets a little boring after a while.
Overall, this album is great, and it's one I recommend to fans of Post Hardcore and Pop Punk, since there is a good balance of the two genres here, as well as slight tinges of 'Deftones'. Great album
Letters To You
Without You Here
What It Is To Burn