Album Review: "Blessed By the Burn" - Left Behind (Unbeaten Records)

Though my review is coming in late, make no mistake; Blessed by the Burn has been on heavy, heavy rotation for me since its release.

In just around 30 minutes, Left Behind’s sophomore album manages to tap into a plethora of different emotions. In fact, I personally found this album to be a lot more emotionally hard-hitting than expected. The band covers many difficult topics, including loss of a loved one - from sadness and grief, all the way to rage - parental abuse, suicidal ideation, and more. Not all of these things are often talked about, and, when they are, certainly not every emotion on the spectrum is covered in the way that Left Behind have managed to with this album. Without ever losing authenticity, becoming repetitive, or beating anything to death (figuratively), Blessed By the Burn does the job beautifully.

Musically, Left Behind has moved in a slightly different direction without polarizing their fans with drastic change. The only change that was definitely noticeable to me was the lack of parts sung in clean vocals, as featured on their last album. While I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect, its absence does not take away from the album being great as a whole whatsoever. Blessed By the Burn, in its entirety, generally moves in a heavier, more metal- or 90’s metalcore-esque direction, in contrast to the very nu-metal-reminiscent direction they took on Seeing Hell.

The album opens with an ass-beater of an intro, “West By God,” whose unofficial alternate title should just be “LEFT BEHIND, YOU FUCKING BITCH.” A few people have expressed that they think it sounds like vocalist, Zach Hatfield, says “where’s my gun?” in this one, pre-breakdown, and the fact that this seems believable to multiple people is enough evidence to show you how tough this intro really is.

(After researching, I found that “West by God” is actually just what people in WV refer to their state as to differentiate it from what I can only assume is, in comparison, soft-ass VA. I’ll support it.)

This song is followed by the Southern metal-influenced “Sweetness of Nothing,” filled with slow, yet uncompromising and constant riffs, that can be described as groovy. This transitions cleanly into riff city itself with one of my favorites -  “Focus on the Flesh.” This one is an almost thrashy head-banger that showcases the band’s skillful instrumentation, moving into a slower, sludgier part thereafter.

Next  is the album’s first single, “Tough Love.” This is a song filled with pure rage, describing Hatfield’s feelings on his girlfriend’s abusive father (you can read more about the situation on Metal Injection here). As a topic that is close to my heart, naturally, this song hypes me up and makes me irrationally angry (in a good way). However, the song still speaks for itself to those who are not familiar with the subject matter, described as “one of the heaviest things Left Behind has put out” by many after it was released.

While this song describes a descent into brutal anger, there is still a vulnerability shown, as the song goes from “you should've been the one to die” in the beginning, to “an eye for an eye/why did she have to die?” towards its end. Regardless of the place you are coming from when you listen to this album, “I said get fucked” is one of the coolest, most rage-inducing crowd calls of all time.

The next one up is a shorter interlude - “Twenty-Four.” This one functions as somewhat of an extended ending to “Tough Love,” and an intro to ease the listener into the title track after it,  “Blessed By the Burn.” This is another one that gives me a Southern metallic vibe, with several riffs that sound almost classic rock-esque. This entire song transitions together amazingly well and includes pretty much every aspect needed for a solid metal song.

“Scarred Soul” begins with an abrasively menacing, sludgy riff, right at its start, ending just as abruptly as it begins. This song, and the ones following it, also err on that hair metal-influenced side that the title track gives us. This is followed by “Early Mourning.” The sound of this one can only be described as the song that plays as you drive into the desert in an old convertible, presumably after murdering those who hurt the ones you love (or something like that). The lyrical content speaks on the details of a downward mental spiral. This is presumably fueled by Hatfield’s girlfriend’s passing, with lines like  “I am your slave for eternity” and “"I scream out your name in vain/twisting pleasure into pain.” It is a no-frills description of a pure, visceral reaction to pain.

This is followed by “Paranoid” and “Burn Out,” another two tracks that give a classic metal vibe.

As Hatfield sings “I’ll burn out before I fade away,” then moving into “I’ll never fade away,” the album leaves on a surprisingly inspiring note that makes the listener want to get out and do something. While that something might be different for everyone, it is an important song nonetheless. Echoing the sound of “Twenty-Four,” Blessed By the Burn finishes with a smooth fade into a sludgy, industrial-esque outro that perfectly ends the record.

All in all, Blessed by the Burn is sure to be an album of the year for any fan of metal, hardcore, nu-metal, and the many other related subgenres. Left Behind has created an album comprised of so many unique-sounding songs, while still releasing a cohesive, blended release. More importantly - Left Behind manages to do this, and do it very, very well.

You can (and should) purchase Blessed by the Burn on Apple Music by clicking this button:

Additionally, you can listen to Blessed By the Burn on Spotify below:


No comments

Post a Comment