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a Burning Fire
Length: 12 Tracks (44 minutes)
When Blindside signed their major label contract back in 2002, I have to admit that I was skeptical. I’ve had seen many of my “underground” favorites attempt at jumping onto the big corporate machine, only to fall into contractual limbo or to be turned into a copy of the current ‘it’ band. I was horrified at thinking Elektra Records would turn their new Swedish acquisition into a White Stripes or Creed cover act.
My fears were put to rest when I caught a show on their promo tour a couple days before their Silence album hit stores. All the elements that made Blindside great were still in place, but there was a new energy and cohesiveness to their sound. Songs like “Pitful” and “Sleepwalking” soon invaded rock radio and Blindside was introduced to the masses.
Now fast forward to 2004. With their newest release, About a Burning Fire, Blindside are looking to take their cultural invasion a step farther. Howard Benson (POD, Pax 217, Hoobastank) returns to take care of production responsibilities. On Silence he was able to capture the raw-feel from the band’s independent discs and combine it with their energetic live sound to create a thicker and more approachable sound.
On About a Burning Fire, the difference in sound is much more subtle. The guitars are a little bigger, the production a little tighter, and the vocals are now an equal mix of screaming and actual singing. The biggest change is Blindside’s exploration and expansion beyond their “screamo” boundaries.
Their first single, ”All of Us,” is a showcase of what Blindside has become known for, a fusion of whispering gasps and heart-wrenching screams. The chorus is the anthem of a lost generation, “All of us are searching for an open arm / Well it’s a shame how I pull myself apart. / When it’s the same words making me run for cover to Your heart.” Musically, this track is a fresh version of what is currently filling play lists of rock radio stations. While not new, it definitely sticks out.
The overall standout track is “Shekina.” This song is the pinnacle showcase of maturity Blindside has maintained both musically and lyrically. Its mixture of haunting female vocal lines (sung in the band’s native Swedish) and uncharacteristic mellow groove are an oasis from the louder landscape that surrounds it. What really set this song apart and allows it to surpass all the others is how the lyrics seem to come to life. Lead singer Christian remembers, “I know you’re always throwing kisses from the sky/ Well, tonight I caught one / Sixteen years old / I dare to swim further out / I know you’re always throwing kisses from the sky/ Well, tonight I caught one.” They are able to capture this beautiful, spiritual moment and display it without sounding sappy or apathetic, an art that is perfected by few.
One other track that deserves a mention is “Hooray, It’s L.A.” I admit that most of my love for this song is due to a guest appearance by former Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. The song has a singable stutter-like chorus that immediately embeds itself into your brain’s playlist. Lyrically this song also is one of the stronger cuts. “I’ve been traveling at the speed of gasoline / And stopped by the color of electricity / We’ve been trying for too long / To cover up His fingerprints / From a distant past.”
Blindside have made their best album to date. Solid guitars. Bold lyrics. And don’t forget the guest appearance by a rock legend. Definitely, one of my Top 10 picks for the year, maybe even all-time. I’m excited to see what this band still has in store for their hopefully lengthy career.
Shawn Dickinson 4/5/2004