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Give Us Barabbas
Artist: The Blamed
Label: Tooth and Nail
Time: 13 tracks / 39:11 min.
The Blamedís latest, Give Us Barrabas, is an exercise in controlled chaos. The general recipe includes darkly obscure, almost free-verse lyrics that Matt Switaj yells over a blend of grinding guitars and reckless drum pounding. There is a method to the Blamedís madness, but itís indistinguishable underneath Switajís grating vocal attack. Heís not singing, not screaming, but barking out rough phrases that may or may not have a purpose.
The best parts of the album come when the band breaks with the pattern. The bridge on "1200 Stares" is notable for being the most chaotic section on an album of chaos. Against a background of wild drumming, a horn blares wildly somewhere and a girlís shrieking dissolves into what sounds like rapidly spoken Japanese. "You Not Me" opens with a hooky, sing-along-y verse before falling back into the rest of the albumís pattern. "Positive" turns things down a notch, with superb results.
The lyrics throw another twist into this heavily artistic album. Lines like "discuss a fashion sense / in an eighteenth century type / friend of a friend / make little difference" ("Cyclical") and "yes, I do wish to pervert the standard" ("So Depraved") fly by without registering. "Prayer For the Dead" boasts the lyric "I want to see you drenched in blood," which I expect (hope) is metaphorical.
For most of the album, however, Switajís yelling and the musical bedlam make each song a faceless entity. From opener "The Lonely Zagreb" to album closer "Best In Show," the songs rarely develop a personality of their own. The Blamed does show some potential in the dark guitar riffs and artistry. I tried to like this album. I really did. But from the first spin to the latest, Give Us Barrabas is simply an uneven post-hardcore effort that rarely reaches the heights itís capable of.
John Wilson 7/14/2002
Give Us Barrabas, the latest album from The Blamed, takes its title from one of the darkest moments in human history -- the moment when men and women screamed for the release of a condemned murderer over that of Christ. As one might expect, this album is dark, the guitars are screeching, and the vocals are near a scream.
At first listen, the sound was intriguing, but after hearing a number of tracks it was apparent that the album was strangely uniform - chaotic, but uniform. Each song is practically indistinguishable from the previous. The often unintelligible lyrics are sporadically half-shouted/half-sung over the top of layers of guitar, bass and drums that would make any metal band proud. This combination gives the sound a feeling of mayhem that, frankly, leaves the listener confused instead of interested. It is as though the band has decided to move past its punk roots, but hasn't exactly found solid ground to stand on yet.
While it is obvious that each member of this band is more than proficient on their respective instruments, there just isn't an innovative spark to the album. There isn't anything to make you stand up and take notice. Perhaps the next album will take this band further in the direction they are headed, and bring forth something new and exciting, but unfortunately this album just isn't it.
Trilisa M. Perrine 8/3/2002