“Fire! Fire! Fire!”
Nothing could sum up The Blood Brothers’ new album Young Machetes quite like the opening of its first track, “Set Fire to the Face on Fire.” Young Machetes is the musical equivalent of chasing a marathon runner through a maternity ward at a hundred miles an hour…while on fire. Following the 2004 release, Crimes, The Blood Brothers release material with somewhat varying shades to great reception. With this new album, they return to the forefront with a renewed sense of vigor and a willingness to explore. A defining element of the album is that it finds the band discontent to stick with one style, wandering from a jazz groove back into an upbeat hardcore sensibility.
The album opens up with an abrasive assault on the ears, as alluded before, setting them on fire. It starts off slow-paced, but quickly gains momentum, until the drums crash continuously, then drop into nothing. Working to great effect, it manipulates the songwriting crutch of slow/fast/slow/fast onto its ear. There exists a great deal of tension during the steadier paced movements, building and building until it erupts in bare emotion.
The second track, “We Ride Skeletal Lightning,” follows more or less in the same vein, opting to use a loud/soft basis. Their usually high-pitched singing would be considered the “soft” while the screaming obviously falls into the “loud” classification. It’s one of the shorter cuts on the album, but nevertheless very enjoyable.
Sounding like a jazz club in hell, “Laser Life” was made to get you dancing. I dare you to sit when it comes on, because trust me, you won’t be able to. Beginning with a trademark Casio beat, the band comes in with guitar, piano and awesome. The beat is extremely buoyant, supporting the highly energetic feel of the track. Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie harmonize during the chorus, which ends up complimenting the piano marvelously. One of my favorite parts comes toward the end when continuous strumming leads to a breakdown and then everything goes to hell. Any previous structure to the song is lost, allowing chaos to break out.
Skipping ahead to track 8, “1,2,3,4, Guitars,” a new musical style is embraced. One of the lead vocalists’ singing is manipulated to sound far away and in mono, while maracas keep the beat going. Random other instruments like wood blocks and a dash of piano pepper half the track. Eventually the song breaks down into uncontrolled emotion, but returns to our jazz club in hell.
“Rat Rider” is reminiscent of “Laser Life,” being energetic, but with a twist this time. Unrelenting is the key here, everything is thrown through the speakers, without a moment to catch a breath. I’m still amazed at how they rush through these two minutes without the slightest pause. Closing out the album is a meandering little number, with one of the vocalists singing through the smoky notes of the piano, reminiscent of Monday night in any local piano bar, though a wider vocal range is hinted at during the song, demonstrating the growth the band has made since Crimes. The breakdowns, be they sporadically placed, sound more like “Rat Rider”—unbarred emotion coupled with that unrelenting spirit.
Although I’ve left out a few tracks, I think these best represent the sound of the album, along with the growth of The Blood Brothers. Young Machetes requires a few listens to fully appreciate all the complexities, at least for the uninitiated. For long term fans, this album will not disappoint, but comes recommended to both non-fans and fans alike, for no other reason that it’s just so much fun. Young Machetes is the perfect album to get you dancing, dancing like you’re on “Fire! Fire! Fire!”
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