Burnt Books - Burnt Books
At A Loss Recordings
Noise/Hardcore Punk
10 songs (31:06)
Release year: 2013
At A Loss Recordings
Reviewed by Koeppe
Surprise of the month

I initially heard In a Shallow Grave after looking into the band and wrote this off as something to bash due to the vocalist’s awkwardly atonal vocals, but after having heard the full album, I now know I was wrong. This album hits hard and ultimately those vocals kinda fit in their melancholic, strained way. Burnt Books plays decent hardcore of the punk-ish moments in Converge with a dash of scream a la Orchid and noise of the Big Black variety.

The deal breaker for many people is going to be how they feel about vocalist Zoe Lollis, as it was for me. I warmed up to her interesting style shifts ranging from the growl-y rasps of Jucifer’s Amber Valentine or even Julie Christmas in her ability to make psychotic sound so pretty.

The album’s diversity in styles borders on the schizophrenic. The album opens with Selfish Friend that maintains a blistering pace, which only slows to showcase Lollis’ somber vocals bending. The track doesn’t hit like a simple straightforward punk track in that it has a groovy bounce to it in the bass. Selfish Friend encapsulates Burnt Books style of tempo shifts, solid hardcore riffs and crazy vocals. Much of the tracks ride in this vein: Dig A Little Deeper blasts away till it crescendos with her crooning, Abandoned is a little more willing to tarry in the mid-pace, Empty Eyes showcases some Alice falling down the rabbit hole vocals for lack of a better description.

If the album was simply fast-paced hardcore punk then it would be pretty damn good at what it does. But there are two additional tracks in which Lollis shows off her banjo skills in addition to her amazing vocal capabilities. Materialist Conspiracy Theorist and Liar are two solid tracks that are simple acoustic tunes that operate less like interludes and more like additional tempo shifts to establish contrast against the punk on the rest of the album. Lyrics blend the personal and the social well; Lollis has perfected that angry yet despondent spoken political lyric that hardcore succeeds at so well. This album is a solid contribution to what Southern hardcore might look like, embracing a sound that recalls worn down, overgrown plantation houses rather than the bleak city streets so often associated with hardcore. I’m simply looking forward to giving this album even more listens in the coming months.

Killing Songs :
Empty Eyes, Liar, Golden Gates Golden Streets, In A Shallow Grave, Unforgiven
Koeppe quoted 85 / 100
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