Blood Brothers, ‘Burn, Piano Island, Burn’ (IM Recordings/Artist Direct)
Some punk bands scream at walls. The Blood Brothers just reach for their sledgehammers. Sometime in the mid-’90s, hardcore stopped being obsessed with staying on message and started spazzing out. At basement shows and VFW halls, grimy guys with chain wallets and watch caps traded the genre’s solemn idealism for musically hellacious, lyrically obtuse chaos. Seattle’s Blood Brothers are part of this frenetic tradition, and on their third album, Burn, Piano Island, Burn–produced by nü-metal maestro Ross Robinson–they sound like they’re too busy tearing their limbs off and hitting one another over the head with them to think about what the songs actually mean.
To his credit, Robinson doesn’t try to give the band’s panicked punk a radio-friendly makeover; he just points a microphone at the explosion and runs for cover. Opener “Guitarmy” is 37 seconds of pure rage; “Do you remember rawwwwwaaaahhhkkkk?” seems to be the main idea. “Every Breath Is a Bomb” slows to a gallop just long enough to set the hook on fire. Vocalists Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney trade off on growls and shrieks while scalp-scraping guitars and the occasional droning keyboard explode and contract around them, like a massive heart pounding between fight and flight. The most obvious reference point here is El Paso, Texas’ At the Drive-In, who came close to making rock-radio hits out of this passionately unstable sound. The Blood Brothers probably won’t find a niche to howl in, but they sound like they’d be just as happy to shatter on impact.