Burn, Piano Island, Burn
By: Eric Greenwood
The Blood Brothers' spastic, abrasive aggression is an acquired taste to say the least- even for those with a predilection to appreciate insanely frantic hardcore. On Burn, Piano Island, Burn, the Seattle quintet's third album, the band teams up with Limp Bizkit's producer, Ross Robinson, and turns out its most accessible record to date. That's not really saying much, as the average indie rocker would still likely soil himself at the sound of this band's raging urgency.
Burn, Piano Island, Burn is an anomaly for so many reasons. Most hardcore bands are pissed off at either the government or their girlfriends, but The Blood Brothers rage about nothing in particular. The surrealistic, bewildering bend of the lyrics causes constant head scratching on the part of the unsuspecting listener: "I fed its limp indifferent walls tales of an ark haunted with the five howls/I tied a nervous noose of piano wire and wrapped it around the mocking throat of the past" ("Burn, Piano Island Burn"). The anger is a pose, which will likely alienate true hardcore punk fans, so you're not likely to see a homeless, dreadlocked crust punk with a blind dog wearing a jacket with a Blood Brothers patch sandwiched between Crass and The Dead Kennedys any time soon.
Robinson's production is much slicker than the band's previous output, accentuating melody whenever possible, and this new, shellacked veneer sounds so bizarre in this violent context. What hardcore album ever sounded good? It almost seems silly. It's hard to make The Blood Brothers palatable to a mass audience given the onslaught of guitars, frenetic changes, and dual, screeching vocals, but once you attune your ears to the unorthodox delivery, you'll very likely see this album for the one-dimensional Mr. Bungle homage that it is. I'm only half-joking. When the screaming subsides, though, the singing voices do sound like Mike Patton on helium. I honestly much prefer the screaming.
The Blood Brothers pretty much have one speed: murder. This will tire even the most patient ears after about fifteen minutes, although, the album does show signs of expanded musical breadth with slower, albeit, brief melodic interludes and unconventional instrumentation (xylophones, toy pianos). It's not nearly enough to make this an album you could sit through twice in a row, unless you were trying to kill your pets or piss off your mom, but, if a wider audience is the intended goal, then this is certainly a step forward.