2002 saw the release of Blindside's first mainstream release entitled Silence. With a more accessible modern rock-glazed hardcore sound, the Swedish quartet pieced together a solid album that would easily become one of the best releases of the year. In 2004, the band is poised to release their follow-up project About A Burning Fire. So the question is, how does it hold up to Silence?
About A Burning Fire opens modestly with the aggressive yet toned-down "Eye Of the Storm." Blindside has taken another step back from the metal edge of their hardcore sound, trading the ferocious guitar riffs for more melodic compositions. Silence saw hints of this from track to track, but the guys experiment more with their sound this time around. But if you've been following the band since their Solid State debut years ago, don't fret, Blindside's sound has evolved and matured nicely, maintaining a fair usage of Christian Lindskog's signature throat-shredding screams mixed with his passionate singing style. Silence had an immensely strong start to their album with "Caught A Glimpse," "Pitiful," "Sleepwalking," and "Cute Boring Love," but unfortunately ...Burning Fire isn't quite as successful. But while "Follow You Down" is more of a franticly orchestrated rocker, it's the radio-friendly gem "All Of Us" that redeems the first half of the record.
"Shekina" bears what is probably the album's most unique sound. A high-ranged female voice that howls through the song's intro may cause you to do a double take to make sure you're still listening to the same record. But the odd opening leads into Christian's soft vocals that hum to a an alt-rock melody complete with strings. While the female vocals are so bizarre at times that they start to wander into the realm of irritating, Blindside pulls off the sound so well that you have to at least appreciate the effort. "Shekina" is the album's ugly duckling, and is followed by the raucous "Hooray, It's L.A." that features an almost completely unnoticeable guest appearance from former Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan vocalist Billy Corgan.
The remaining tracks on the record melodically stomp and scream its way through with highlights including "After You're Gone," "Where The Sun Never Dies" and the infectious title track. Blindside offers a varied musical venture that showcases the band's often brilliant versatility from track to track. While melodies have begun replacing more of the unbridled angst-ridden metalcore of the band's previous releases, the guys still haven't lost their edge. A solid effort, but maybe not quite as good as their last venture, About A Burning Fire is a fresh rock release that clearly stands out among the rest.
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