Album Reviews: Burn ‘Do Or Die’

 Burn’s discography encompasses only four EPs spanning the course of nearly three decades. But when the band began working with Kurt Ballou (Converge) and Howie Weinberg (Slayer, Public Enemy, Sonic Youth), their debut album was brought to fruition. And thus far, Do Or Die is the band’s most dynamic and innovative work yet. 



Genre: Hardcore
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Number of Tracks: 10
Label: Deathwish Inc.
Rating:

Purchase: MP3 / CD / Vinyl


Emerging from New York’s robust hardcore scene of the 80’s, Burn, came onto the scene with a divergent approach. The band was originally conceived by Absolution guitarist Gavin Van Vlack and close friend Chaka Malik, both of whom shared a common interest of music, graffiti and skateboarding. The late 80’s and early 90’s marked a turning point for hardcore and it was commonplace for bands to embrace other genres such as metal and hip hop. But in an interview, Gavin cited blues, industrial, jazz, and 3/4 drum groups as the influencing factors behind Burn’s unorthodox landscape. But aside from the band’s revolutionized expression of hardcore, their thrust of emotionally charged delivery is what truly propels them forward. Every guitar chord unleashed by Gavin and every lyric shouted by Chaka embody a presence that is nearly impossible to miss.

After Burn’s reunion of 2001, the Last Great Sea with two tracks to later be featured on Do Or Die; “Last Great Sea” and most notably “New Morality.” In a lyrical sense, the latter is a collective of the world’s turmoil wrapped into one dilemma, hence the song title. But “New Morality” was written by Gavin years ago an in retrospect, the context can be applied to the current era. Gavin explains further:

“You can’t look at it as “What’s happening now that did not influence the lyrics?” We don’t try to make a point of “oh this is what’s going on exactly right now.” There’s a big kind of history repeating itself. And I think that gets pointed out quite a bit.”

But the spiritual and political drive of Burn’s lyrics are nothing new. Each song within their collective discography communicates a message that most people on the right side of morality can relate to. Do Or Die’s lead single, “Ill Together” is an anthemic shout-along embracing an awareness of personal freedom and the moments that shouldn’t be overlooked. In a parallel sense, “Dead Identity” confronts the societal grip-hold of pop-culture and social media. Chaka sends a consequential warning with the fist-pumping lyrics “You will not feel the wrath of your dripping conscience / You will not feel the wrath of your tendencies.”

Do Or Die is often spurred by Gavin’s multidirectional guitar style. He jumps in head first on the album’s opener, “Fate,” with a flurry of off-key riffs and earth shattering chugs. Chaka chimes in with intensity as he reiterates “Fate have mercy on me.” The 10 tracks on this album are packed with shape-shifting transitions that are rarely delivered in repetition. “Flame” and “Beauty” both embody an explosive element accelerating and decelerating between sporadic bursts of punk rock and wavy intervals. The upbeat abrasiveness of “Do Or Die” is unleashed through Abbas Muhammad’s barreling toms correlating with the potency of Tyler Krupsky’s bass and Gavin’s guitar chops. Additionally, the backing vocals evoke a repetative yet tribal aesthetic.

Burn’s discography encompasses only four EPs spanning the course of nearly three decades. But when the band began working with Kurt Ballou (Converge) and Howie Weinberg (Slayer, Public Enemy, Sonic Youth), their debut album was brought to fruition. And thus far, Do Or Die is the band’s most dynamic and innovative work yet. This album seems to bring about a new beginning for a band that has already left it’s mark on the world of heavy music.


Listen to “Ill Together” and “Do Or Die” below:




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