Review Summary: You light my morning sky with burning love.
Punk music has become superficial these days. That speaks of the music and more importantly, the musicians. Dirt poor kids will use their last hundred dollars to dress up, make a band named after a book they probably never read, and write a song about ridiculous relationship problems that they never actually went through that becomes a hit with everyone who isn't old enough to drink, while suburban denizens pass for tough-as-nails, dirt poor, hardcore crowd punching maniacs. While doing either of the two and releasing a record with the same amount of depth as a mall fountain might make you a few dollars, it rarely does anything to propel the art of the music they claim to play. To the dedicated fan it becomes fake, when that person believes the ultimate objective of Punk is to not just speak the truth, but BE the truth.
Named from an Elvis classic, Burning Love is not a mess of the aforementioned superficial. With Chris Colohan, formerly of Cursed fronting this band and the album being produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge, the listener automatically knows that they are in good hands. The band's first full length, Songs For Burning Lovers gave the listener an idea of what to expect and was a bronze release for a band fully capable of going for the gold. With the full power of Metal magnate Southern Lord Records behind them, the full potential of Burning Love is not only harnessed, but then released like a rabid animal.
Burning Love is groovy, there is literally no other way to put it at first listen. From the chaotic drum work in Superstitious Friend and the blazing guitar leads in Hateful Comforts, the best way to describe them is groovy. But to condense the sound of Burning Love down to one word doesn't do this band justice after a few more listens. This band does a really good job at preventing a listener from defining them easily. This can be found in the variation of guitar work found in the album. Eschewing many traits of today's generic punk, Burning Love avoid chugging and chunky riffing like the plague and substitute it with a whole ton of staccato rhythm and gritty, lead guitar driven pentatonic riffs. This allows the band to pepper in the generic hardcore parts that trick the listener into thinking that it is groundbreaking such as with the 2-step worthy beginning of Pig City Pt II. Another thing to note is the band's usage of dual guitar solos in songs like Broken Glass and Hateful Comforts.
All members of the band play a pure and honest sound. Even when Burning Love plays their generic Hardcore pieces, the listener will not become bored. Vocalist Chris Colohan is another huge asset to this album. Channeling the power of F ucked Up's Pink Eyes' snarl and Keith Morris' barbarity, Colohan is part shout, part singing, and full devastation. Superstitious Friend is the best example of Colohan's capability as a vocalist as he shows every variation of his voice from the beginning shouts of “I got a superstitious friend,” to the singing of, “and all of his biggest fans, makin' the Sunday plans and all of his biggest fans are going to meet the man!” to the closing, agonizing screams, this particular song captures it best.
The album isn't free of blemishes. At some points the guitar work doesn't really use their incredible licks to their full potential, sometimes coming off empty and leaving the listener wanting more, and the long drawn out instrumental, 12:31 should have been sent to bed without supper. However, this is made up for with the closing song “Broken Glass” which gives the listener a little bit of inside information on the demise of Colohan's Cursed. Featuring some fast paced southern guitar work which all builds up to an incredible bridge and finally, a crushing conclusion to the song. Colohan’s lyrics and vocal delivery are flawless as he tells the end of Cursed : “Do you think so much of wood and steel? Only life and death are real, and f uck the rest.” closing finally with: “I just want to be with my friends tonight, and tomorrow they can take the rest.”
Burning Love is a whole lot of energy, talent, and honesty. This is something that has been missing from the superficial Punk. To put it the most bluntly, Burning Love IS the truth that the exhausted Punk fan has been looking for for these past few years. Rotten Thing To Say comes off as a fresh and much needed panacea to the current shape of the genre that they fit into. Hopefully, this isn't the magnum opus of this band, but one of many honest releases poised to bring Punk to it's knees. Only life and death are real.