Over the course of the past couple years The Blood Brothers have gone from being what I considered a guilty pleasure to being a group that I find myself still consistently turning to when I need a good cathartic release. When I heard that they had a new album coming out, I have to admit that it shot quite a ways up my list of new releases that I was really looking forward to hearing. One of their most adventurous releases to date, Young Machete is about what you'd expect from a group trying out some new things. At times they hit things out of the park with gusto, and at other times it just doesn't quite work.
Produced by Guy Piccioto of Fugazi, the fifteen track, fifty minute album is even more spastic than usual, segueing from bombastic blowouts to flamboyantly-theatrical keyboard-driven moments when you could almost imagine the group dressed up like Liberace before shredding their audiences faces off. "Set Fire To The Face Of Fire" opens the album, and it's one of those previously mentioned throwdowns, with what sounds like a guitar symphony shredding in unison while a sludgy rhythm section puts the junk in the trunk behind the call and response vocals of Johnny Whitney and Jordan Billie.
From there, the album is all over the place. "We Ride Skeletal Lightning" is more of a throwback track, with more walls of blistering guitars and screamo vocals that dips into a spacey bridge. Things start getting a bit more strange with "Camouflage, Camouflage," as the track opens with guitar scorching intro, but then drops off into an extended solo vamp by Whitney pulling off his best crooner act over electric piano before a more traditional rock closing. Meanwhile, "Spit Shine Your Black Clouds" may very well be one of the most poppy things the band has ever done, rocking with a rubbery bassline and a dance punk feel that sounds like the group doing their best Franz Ferdinand impersonation.
The group saves some of their best material until the latter portion of the release, and both "Nausea Shreds Yr Head" and "Huge Gold AK-47" are hugely potent, with the former sounding like surf rock getting worked over in a big way while the latter features an amazingly catchy vocal hook chorus and some classic Blood Brothers freakout moments. As a whole, Young Machete sounds far more disjointed and clunky than their previous two albums, which mixed in some unique and even abrupt changes in ways that seemed to fit perfectly within the context of their sound. There's still not really anyone out there creating music quite like this, but unfortunately The Blood Brothers have made better albums than this.