For this week’s Core Breakdown, I am excited to share with ya’ll the album review of the new Burn record! The legendary New York hardcore act debuted their first record back in 1990, bringing forth an aggressive sound that was innovative and raw. Now with it being 20 years later, Burn are proud to share their newest release in Do or Die (Deathwish).
The record begins with “Fate”, guitarist Gavin Van Vlack starting things off with a groovy rhythm, drummer Abbas Muhammad keeping to a consistent metallic clash, with a funky element to the bass work thanks to Tyler Krupsky. The song takes a lot of these elements that feel like they are trying to do their own thing, and creates a solid drive in the music’s progression. A lot of this is thanks to vocalist Chaka Malik, who acts as the glue to the track’s structure. Malik’s voice is a blend of sharp and aggressive, dipping at times into fuzzy psychedelic tones. This sound appears in the song “Flame”, Malik kicking things off with a force to match the drum adrenaline. Instead of coming off like a generic heavy song, the guitar work intertwines a lot of mellow vibes throughout the material, allowing the track to lift with brightness, and come back down like a kick to the face.
“Beauty” builds up the tension with a fuzzy bass and guitar intro, shifting gears within seconds into a heavy funk. It is the ability to blend these various sounds that makes Burn one of the most unique hardcore bands of our time. It’s a sound that reminds me of the Bad Brains, especially if you think of their God Of Love record and self-titled release. It’s a combination that some might not think of right away, but pays off for its ability to lure listeners in with heaviness and atmosphere. While there are those tracks that jump around with funk, it is songs like “Dead Identity” that play to their heavier hardcore qualities. The immediate drum clashes and guitar strums lead the work into a killer rhythm, the material finding a happy middle ground between catchy and sharp instrumentation. Malik’s voice goes from smooth and like honey, to bursting with vigor and attitude. In each song, Burn finds a way to inject emotion, and present some new spin upon their sound. “New Morality” slides with a sludge-like appeal that gives off this warm and gritty presentation. Malik’s voice provides a shade of blues that meets punk, seeping its way into the instrumentation. In particular, the guitar distortion and rhythm gives this Rage Against The Machine aura, with each drum clash, guitar note, and vocal inflection rising the adrenaline.
Do or Die offers a sound that isn’t all that common today, but also shows why Burn is one of the most talented hardcore bands around. It is their ability to intertwine traditional hardcore music with various shades of emotional tones and sounds that allows them to create fascinating work. The hectic drums, funky bass sections, sharp and hip guitar notes, along with hypnotic vocal work all come together for an excellent album of hardcore punk delivery.
Thanks for tuning into The Core Breakdown! You can listen to Burn’s “Ill Together” below, and pre-order the record here.