Burning Brides – Leave No Ashes

Burning Brides
Leave No Ashes

My initial stab at college was a blur of parties, hung-over lectures, and cheating on a girlfriend I had back home. Burning Brides’ latest offering forms a soundtrack for those nights when, to paraphrase the almighty Jesus and Mary Chain, you’re taking yourself to a dirty party of town where all your troubles won’t be found. Full of bombast and attitude, Leave No Ashes has the raw power sparked by 70’s rock behemoths. Unfortunately, it also carries some of the excess too.

The songs hit with all the force of a cranked-up truck driver barreling his 18 wheeler into the Dodge Neon that is your head. On the drop of a needle, Dmitri Coats can switch from the chained up ghost of Alice (“King of the Demimonde”) to channeling his inner Oasis (“Come Again”). Unlike the two polar opposites he seems to reference, Dimitri keeps his tongue firmly entrenched in his ashen cheek. For example, just when “King of the Demimonde” threatens to become a retread of well-treaded junkie sludge territory (and with lines like “oh no / you copped at the show / and now you’re gonna get high,” it is difficult to not see the song spiraling off into a Dirt B-side), the track begins to pummel with such intensity that one can’t help thrashing about with a violent grin. Right before knuckles get bloodied, the song slams back into THC-laced Sabbath riffs and all is right with the world.

As seen in the band’s debut release, Fall of the Plastic Empire, Burning Brides can and will bring the rock. However, on this sophomore album, Coats and company are making a valiant attempt to flesh out their sound. While the 70s punk riffs being hauled out of the garage on “Alternative Teenage Suicide” will no doubt have fans racing for the pit, tracks like “Dance with the Devil” exist for the sole purpose of getting one’s sexed-up groove on.

This is where the album breaks down. Fall of the Plastic Empire stayed heavily rooted in the shadows of the Stooges, MC5, and the 70s RAWK sound. Leave No Ashes experiments on several tracks to varied results. “Pleasure in the Pain” starts out with some acoustic guitar more reminiscent of standard classic rock fare before Dmitri enters his best Liam Gallagher impression into the mix. Complete with harmonica and a distinct twang, the song comes off as stoner country (if such a thing exists). “Last Man Standing” wrapped up in piano and minor chords plays the ballad card to mixed results. While the lyrics are aptly gloomy and goth enough (“all that I remember about that day / hangs inside a black picture frame”), the cheesy 70s-esque backup vocals conjure up images of “Dream On,” and really no one should ever have to be forcefully reminded of the Steven Tyler’s existence. The album makes up for all the bad things about 70s rock with the final track. “Vampire Waltz” is a slow-burning torch song, perfect for lowering the lights, lighting some candles (red of course), and snuggling up with that special someone met while dancing drunkenly to Iggy Pop. When the song opens up at the end, a chorus of the damned pushes you into the night with a smile on your face.

In the end, Leave No Ashes is an admirable record. While the latter half of the album is possibly overloaded with ballads, songs like “Heart Full of Black” and the title track will fulfill your rock fantasies. Stick around for “Come Alive” and “Century Song” to hear a band not afraid to embrace its poppy fetish. Just steer clear of the awkward ballads where the Gallagher brothers go to bed with Aerosmith.