The Blood Brothers – Burn Piano Island, Burn

The Blood Brothers
Burn Piano Island, Burn

The Blood Brothers is truly unlike anything you have ever heard before, and this is not just an excuse from coming up with similar bands or a straightforward description of the sound. Burn Piano Island, Burn is an example of how this band doesn’t just destroy everything you know about music, but rather shreds it to pieces, douses it in gasoline, sets it on fire, and dances around it. Part of the goal of an album like this must be to shock its audience, which it does with ease.
Imagine a punk band without the trappings of the “punk” label, or a “hardcore” band with the same freedom. The instruments shriek and squeal as though they are being tortured mercilessly, and yet this is far from generic noise because the artistry is astounding. It is horribly abrasive and discordant, but also filled with an intriguing sense of avant-garde experimentation. Guitarist Cody Votolato (also of Waxwing) leads the angular shredding, taking what he does with his other band and cranking it up both in speed and volume. Meanwhile the rhythm section of drummer Mark Gajadhar and bassist Morgan Henderson can’t be described as anything other than pummeling. From quirky little rim taps and jazzy basslines to frantic time changes and walls of crashing, you are incapable of turning away. The vocals (split between Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney) are equally inescapable, screaming, barking, singing, and howling with a sense of rage that consistently seems to be on the verge of exploding and destroying itself.
All of this has both an up and a down side. Every move the Blood Brothers make has both the potential to be wildly innovative and breathtaking but also the potential to be irritating and overpowering. Yet not every note is looking to beat you over the head, with all of the aforementioned chaos smartly countered with the occasional piano and organ interludes. And the production is another aspect of the album that helps make it a little more digestible than one would believe, with those duties being handled by the renowned Ross Robinson (Korn, At the Drive-In, Limp Bizkit, etc.).
Whether you end up liking this album or not, it is going to be one of the most intense things you’ve ever heard. And in a world where most hardcore punk just turns out to be thumping and repetitive rubbish, something like this is a breath of freshly disturbing air. So how did the Blood Brothers end up on a major label (Artist Direct, distributed by BMG), especially in today’s dismal commercial music marketplace? Maybe one of the suits has an evil sense of humor, or maybe this is a sign of change to come. Let’s hope so.