The genre of beatdown is one of those underground subsects of the hardcore & metal communities that is rather hit or miss in the sense that, while relentlessly heavy and edgy, can also quickly be lost in bland repetition. Despite this, the rise in popularity of such bands as No Zodiac as well as CARBINE in recent years has proven otherwise due to the artist's consistently energetic performances, hard-hitting recordings and powerful messages. With that in mind, the United Kingdom's fast become a whirlpool of hardcore and beatdown notoriety (mainly due to the presence of several mindblowing acts like the aforementioned CARBINE), which brings us to today's artist. Blossom & Burn serves as a newly formed one-man beatdown/hardcore project based in Birmingham that has caught our attention as of late; for now, the debut release is out in all its glory to assault our ears. Let's take a look.
Released independently on the 21st of September, 2018 through Bandcamp, the Blossom & Burn EP by eponymous band Blossom & Burn is a debut release consisting of five tracks comprising some pretty stellar and heavy content. The brief 18 or so minute EP features a simple, yet to the point, artwork cover by Tanya Billington; in addition to production work and mixing done by the sole band member as well as Daniel Mihaylov of Terraform Audio and editing work by James Dix. Finally, technical aspects aside, this new EP also includes the collabs and guest vocals of a few other active musicians in the scene (which will be touched on later in this review).
The EP opens up with some background distortion feedback that leads into some chugging guitar action and eventually a brief display of the vocals we are bound to hear throughout. This minute long track titled 'W.M.H.C.' (abbreviation for West Mids Hard Core) doesn't have much to it, but it still serves as a cool buildup song for the rest of this release. The very first beatdown riff we get in the song's latter half is also catchy, though short. Then, a little bass line comes onto the scene as intro for 'Sing Along With Mr. Pink Noise'. Another thing I've noticed is that most of the track titles follow the oldschool core tradition of having odd names based on inside jokes or something that rarely has anything to do with the actual song, but I digress.
The tone, structure and production quality throughout Blossom & Burn EP is impeccable, especially given that most of everything was done by a single individual. Going back to the song at hand, 'Sing Along With Mr. Pink Noise' features guest vocals by Tom Adams and is more of a chuggy hardcore track for its first half. About halfway in, however, the song sort of turns to a slammy beatdown vibe in the vein of No Zodiac. Yet another interesting thing on this EP is the transition between spoken vocals to growls, mids and other eclectic styles. That aside, pretty much every song ends with your standard beatdown riff/breakdown that makes you want to mosh.
My two personal fave tracks on Blossom & Burn EP have to be 'Jeremy's In A Cult' and 'Lambs To The Cosmic Slaughter' (which features a guest vocal spot by Rob Salzmann). 'Jeremy's In A Cult' is a really likeable track due to its relentless riff variety consisting of open notes, tremolo picking and more, even giving me Hatebreed-esque vibes at times, as well as its overall flow. 'Lambs To The Cosmic Slaughter' is arguably the most fleshed out track on this EP, with its near six minute running time making it the EP's longest song. This one is easily my fave overall due to its underlying lyrical messages and aggressive vocals throughout. The breakdowns on this song really hit you hard and the lines that lead up to the final beatdown section are pretty memorable and hardcore, to say the least. The final track, comically titled 'That's Not A Flashlight, It's A Sledgehammer', was the single released to promote this EP and includes Josh Davies on vocal duties. It's a decent track that's more traditional beatdown than the rest of the EP (think old The Last Ten Seconds of Life or NASTY) and the vocal spot really packs a punch.
As a closing statement, Blossom & Burn's debut EP makes itself clearly known and heard as, overall, an edgy, aggressive, and technically sound first break for the band. It's full of some sweet and slammy riffs, surprising vocal variety, and your typical edgy, controversial lyricism that you'd hope to hear in this kind of music. The EP manages to take many of the solid aspects of the beatdown-hardcore genres, put them together, and condense them in a more compact listening format...making it a solid start to an ambitious and potentially destructive one-man band career.
Pros: great vocal variety and guest spots throughout, some eclectic song structures and transitions, beatdown chromatic riffs that make you want to break stuff, solid destruction and powerful lyrics
Cons: Only thing that really comes to mind is the short length that leaves you wanting more, and some of the quality on the drum programming, which is more of a personal nitpick than actual criticism
Fave Tracks: 'Jeremy's In A Cult', 'Lambs To The Cosmic Slaughter'
For Fans Of: CARBINE, NASTY, No Zodiac
**This release is available now here!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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