The Blood Brothers
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2006, Volume 13, #12
Written by Melissa Stroh
Looking for something different? Not only will The Blood Brothers’ sixth, full-length endeavor Young Machetes give it to you, but it will give it to you hard. Since the release of its debut Rumors Laid Waste, the group’s energetic, layered music hasn’t changed dramatically, and the lyrical settings that it typically employs remain as surreal as ever. Yet, its latest album feels different, and it provides a breath of fresh air for newcomers to the band’s work. Even longtime fans will find plenty of nuances to enjoy.
Young Machetes begins with what appears to be a pyromaniac’s dream song Set Fire to the Face on Fire, which initially sounds like mumbling through which lead singer Cody Votolato repeatedly screams, "fire, fire, fire." In fact, it would be easy to dismiss most of the tunes on Young Machetes as nothing more than just a bunch of angry kids screaming into a microphone, but deeper issues are embedded into the material. Pervading the affair is an air of disappointment with the current state of western society, and upon closer inspection, Set Fire to the Face on Fire is, in actuality, a big fuck-you to what has become the adolescent norm: eating disorders, one-night stands, and a false self-image.
The first exception to this rule, however, is the carefree and ridiculously fun dance track Laser Life. Throughout the song, The Blood Brothers orders its fans to "shake your wings like they’re laced with sound" and "shake your hands like they’re full of disaster." The result plays like a surreal rendition of Outkast. On the subsequent Camouflage, Camouflage, the band pulls back on its ear-splitting screaming to paint a story of misguided love on the streets of Montreal, and throughout the rest of the set, the group unfalteringly continues its eccentric ways as it delivers fairy-tale-gone-wrong scenes, name drops (Rolling Stones and John Lennon), and plenty of teenage angst to go around.
Toning down the high energy escapades of Young Machetes’s opening half likely wasn’t an easy feat. Nonetheless, The Blood Brothers effortlessly achieves it. The 15-track album concludes with the subdued, blues-y refrains of Giant Swan, which recounts the tale of a broken life, but as a rapid progression of chords and vocals erupts from the center of the song, the main character’s current situation is explained more fully.
Not only has The Blood Brothers concocted an original sound, but its lyrics are as captivating and evocative as a novel. Young Machetes is a tremendous artistic statement, and it ought to go a long way toward getting the band the attention that it deserves.
Young Machetes is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box