Don Caballero
What Burns Never Returns


4.0
excellent

Review

by TheCharmOffensive USER (3 Reviews)
January 3rd, 2022 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you thought their last album was outlandish, things just got a whole lot worse (in a good way).

Embracing every unusual element of their last album and increasing it tenfold, the band pushes abnormality to the forefront of their third studio album. If you listened to Don Caballero's studio album discography in chronological order, it'd be clear that their debut, For Respect, held an obvious post-punk sound full of heavy yet brisk riffs. Their second album, surprisingly called Don Caballero 2 (yes, that's sarcasm), still contained that post-punk influence but in a subtler way. Now, on their third album, the post-punk influence has completely evaporated from their sound and has ascended to musical heaven. Instead, this album's full focus is on the less orthodox side of things we saw on Don Caballero 2.

There are 2 things you need to understand going into this album. Firstly, this is not easy listening and far from it. First time I heard this album I was confused at how anybody could even classify this garbage as real music. I tried to get into it, but I just couldn't, and only got into it and the rest of Don Caballero because of a chance re-visitation 8 months later. You've got to wait for it to click, and while you're waiting you've got to force yourself through a big steaming heap of trash. Secondly, there's no main instrument. Usually, when we think of a song, we think of it in individual parts. Some of these parts are more significant than others. In rock for example, the guitars and vocals (if there are any) are usually the more important parts, while the drums and bass are the less important parts which are more processed in the background. I've heard some say that in Don Cab the drums are the primary instrument, but I disagree. The roles of the drums and the guitar are definitely reversed in a way, with the drums having lots of variation while the guitar is constantly repeating riffs. However, I find it better listening to the composition as a whole. This album is more of a musical experience than an album. It's like the abstract expressionism art movement but in musical form, and that can be said for avant-garde music as a whole. It's very erratic, doesn't really have any meaning or purpose, but is beautiful to look at.

Upon playing this album, you'll be met with crazy drums, twinkling guitars and a heavy bass playing unearthly math rock so repetitive yet incomprehensible it's almost as if the band are trying to hypnotise you. However, like the abstract expressionism example I alluded to earlier, throughout this trip moments of astonishing beauty can be found, and very consistently also. Even though this album should really be seen for what it is, a group of musical instruments having a breakdown, there's something about this album that's so awesome. Behind all of the twinkling guitars and odd time signatures lies this indescribable vibe given off by the album. The best term I could use is ethereal but that doesn't fully capture the vibe I'm trying to describe. The only thing that can truly describe it is the cover art itself. There's just something about it. I at first imagined it as a UFO light beam getting ready to deploy some aliens on top of a house below a green and gloomy sky here on Earth. However, after thinking for a while, I began to look at it as a UFO light getting ready to deploy some humans onto a post-apocalyptic extraterrestrial planet. Now that I think about it, that's the perfect way to describe it. This album is the soundtrack to walking across the barren wastelands of a post-apocalyptic world once home to an advanced alien species under a green sky at evening time. It's that vibe that turns this album from a random selection of twinkles and drum beats into an experience that transports you elsewhere.

To conclude, What Burns Never Returns is a great album in their discography marking the first of a two album run (this and American Don) that popularised them within the math rock community. It's not hard to see why this album helped pioneer an entire genre, it deserves it. Whether you love or hate this album, it's originality is undeniable and without it math rock wouldn't be the same.


user ratings (264)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
parksungjoon
January 3rd 2022


47235 Comments


sick

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2022


10268 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This didn't have a review? Heck. Pos.

Source
January 3rd 2022


19917 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rocks

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 3rd 2022


60885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

What in the hell this had no rev? Only heard DC2, will get spin & read this tomorrow

Demon of the Fall
January 3rd 2022


34304 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cool that someone reviewed this, fair play good sir.

I heard this many moons ago, thought it was soulless and incredibly dull. Will endeavour to revisit.

parksungjoon
January 4th 2022


47235 Comments


filtered

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2022


60885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

soul filter

dedex
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2022


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

aye dope this has a rev now! Pos

Mort.
January 4th 2022


25561 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i like it

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2022


60885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

uh Slice Where You Live Like Pie is absolutely perfect math perfect rock



love how they preserved a little of DC2's brutality on here - first two tracks had me worried it'd be too clean

Mort.
January 4th 2022


25561 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wait i havent rated this?? i could have sworn id heard it

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2022


60885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

swear it right now

Mort.
January 4th 2022


25561 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i fucken will m8 dont @ me

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
January 5th 2022


8352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn someone finally did it

TheSpirit
Emeritus
January 5th 2022


30304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is cool, thanks for the review. every song reminds of something that would be a theme for like... ren & stimpy or something

Snake.
January 7th 2022


25286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh fuck yeah

Supercoolguy64
March 1st 2023


11800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This destroys every single telecaster twinkle band from the past two decades ever

Mort.
March 9th 2023


25561 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

finally got round to listening to this in full multiple times



above comment is correct, really demonstrates how creatively bereft a shit ton of math rock is

GhandhiLion
March 9th 2023


17645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Well, most of the twinkle stuff people call math rock isn't math rock anyway...

GhandhiLion
March 9th 2023


17645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

One of the best drumming outros/intros ever



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