Their incurable calculation has, to date, landed them a major-label deal, scored them studio time with career-making producer Ross Robinson and slapped their scruffy mugs on the pages/covers of music rags the world over...so the obvious question is, where do the Blood Brothers go from here? Their music isn't the least bit commercial, rock radio is unlikely to beat down their door any time soon, and if Burn, Piano Island, Burn
is any indication, they're headed further and further afield with each successive release -- seemingly destined for major-label obscurity or über-indie stardom. Or might they, by some fluke of fate, achieve both?
Less cohesively engaging than March on Electric Children, Burn, Piano Island, Burn is, by turns, spasmodically inviting and gratingly repulsive to all but the most patient of noisemongers. Tracks such as "Ambulance vs. Ambulance" and "Guitarmy/Fucking's Greatest Hits" are obstinately avant-garde in their derision, all wire-bound guitars, stuttering dual streams-of-consciousness and poleaxed Bad Brains rhythmic thrash. The band go to great pains to separate themselves from the glut of sweaty bodies that currently represent the hardcore nation; the traces of suicide glamour in the spazzcore wreckage of "USA Nails" and "Six Nightmares at the Pinball Masquerade" serve to separate them from the curmudgeonry of their inveterate peers, while the broken machinegun polemics of the title track will endear them to a large faction of disillusioned pit-monkeys and metalheads.
Burn, Piano Island, Burn's primeval thunder is undeniable, but that very trait is what eventually exposes the album's biggest flaw -- namely, disjointedness. The disc sounds hastily assembled and overtly slapdash -- a collection of B-sides rather than a concentrated whole. Though the band is the primary target of this criticism, producer Ross Robinson, whose normally methodical techniques seem to have fallen by the wayside, must shoulder a portion of the blame for a brilliantly patchy recording that fails to really congeal as a solid song-cycle.
For all of Burn, Piano Island, Burn's sweltering intensity and histrionic intent, the Blood Brothers' real achievement here is persuading a major-label to provide them with heaps of cash while making music designed to keep their underground cred and fanbase intact.