The Burden Brothers – Buried in Your Black Heart

The Burden Brothers
Buried in Your Black Heart

Having been originally released back in late 2003, Buried in Your Black Heart is another disc that’s somehow eluded my attention span until now. The Burden Brothers are made up of former members of Gwar, Reverend Horton Heat, and Doosu (though it feels most important to mention that the frontman, Vaden (Todd) Lewis, was the primary guitarist/songwriter/vocalist for 90s cult favorite The Toadies).

The Toadies connection is the most obvious, as Lewis’ trademark scruffy vocals are immediately recognizable within something like the first 15 seconds of the disc. To be honest, a majority of Buried in Your Black Heart really does sound like a more mature version of the Toadies (no surprises there, considering Lewis has a writing credit on all but one track on the album).

The album-opening title track is a frantic and quirky two-minute binge of quick-lick, foot-stomping rock that garners a lot of intensity from Lewis’ urgently haggard voice. Both “Shadow” and the restrained, almost Weezer-esque “Beautiful Night” are solid numbers that build up and regress in layers, depending on how loudly the surprisingly catchy rhythm guitars are chugging throughout the songs. “You’re So God Damned Beautiful” gets by on a slightly off-kilter beat, though it’s really the Thin Lizzy-reminiscent guitar solo that makes the song stand out.

The band does offer up a nice (though lighter-worthy) ballad in “If You’re Going to Heaven,” though it sounds like the band revels more in the aggressive throb of three-minute guitar barrages like “Do for Me” and “Come on Down,” both of which jump out from stereo speakers like alarm sounds. Surprisingly, though, the band’s best moment comes on the reverently bluesy “Conditional,” as Lewis scales down his vocal approach just enough to make the lyrical content sound as creepy as it does aggressive (“You know I love you even when you run away from me / But I don’t want to chase you any more / So if you have to go away, then I won’t make you stay / Just lie awake and listen for the door”). This one’s also fun because of the slick lead-guitar work that punctuates the middle of the track, even if Lewis gets a little too creepy (in a good way, of course) when he croons, “Won’t let you be my God / Won’t let you be my slave / What else is there left to be?”

All in all, Buried in Your Black Heart isn’t a bad little effort. My only concern is that most bands pegged with that ‘retro 90s’ tag ultimately lose out on any sort of radio/music television exposure because of it, a fact that basically relegates this very worthwhile album to ‘under the radar’ status. Still, though, fans of The Toadies would completely dig this record, and I’d wager to say that fans of quirky, straight-laced rock wouldn’t be disappointed with it, either.