Last week I began discussing my opinions on CrazyEightyEight’s 2018 record Burning Alive. This week I’m excited to say we’ll be picking up right where we left off to finish out the album, and boy am I excited.
And that’s because next we have “Moloko Plus.” Now I don’t know anything about A Clockwork Orange, which this song is based on, but if it’s anywhere near as awesome as this song is I need to watch or read it soon. This song opens on a crazy heavy section with a guest vocalist before slowing itself all the way down for a lovely little soft instrumental break. This section gives me serious Frances the Mute vibes and I say that as an absolute positive. But then it branches out, becoming a heavier break while still maintaining the tense, lurking feeling like something crazy’s about to happen. Then the vocals come back, but the music doesn’t immediately jump to join it, instead continuing the tense buildup until finally it pays off to an incredibly dramatic return before repeating the intro in a poetic, bookending fashion. I haven’t experienced a song that moved me this much since we talked about Daft Punk’s “Touch” on my first album review for this blog. What more can I say except that this an exceptional listening experience packed into a brief five minutes.
“Hannah” is exactly where it needs to be on this album. It’s a soft, slow, piano focused track with beautiful, haunting melodic vocals. I get strong early Evanescence vibes, and not the radio singles. I’m talking the meat of that early bit, those dreary, haunting, and yet beautiful tracks that feel oddly whimsical despite their depressing nature. What I’m saying is that this song speaks to me on levels of both nostalgia, wonder, and just being a beautiful song. It fits so well after the crazy intensity of “Moloko Plus” and it may very well be my second favorite track on this album, only overtaken by its predecessor.
“You Were Right” is almost a weaker track, in fact most of it is. It fits well, being a softer track to slowly build back up after “Hannah,” but it borders on not being memorable. Almost. Most of this song isn’t terribly worth mentioning. But the ending. The ending. “You Were Right” ends on absolutely insane percussion solo that is so undeniably fun and enjoyable that I can’t even bring myself to disregard this song. Maybe it’s a bit odd that a good percussion solo can absolutely save a song for me, but hey, I never claimed not to be a bit odd myself.
To get back to a bit more normality in my opinions we have “Ian Hates Gretchen,” a song I enjoy all the way through. This song is an absolute highlight of Lauren Babic’s vocal talent, as she shifts between vocal styles constantly and it always comes off as extremely fluid and natural. This song is a lot more hard rock than it is metal, but that doesn’t detract from the quality at all. It’s just a really solid track towards the end of the album.
“300 Pages” is an interesting song, as it’s a calm interlude that precedes only a singular track on the album. Perhaps calm isn’t one hundred percent accurate, as this song does have a bit of a dark, waiting undertone. Apparently it’s meant to invoke imagery of The Hobbit, which works as that story is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings just as this song is in a way a prequel to the album’s final track “My Friends, You Bow to No One.” I’ve not much more to say about this interlude other than it’s nice and gives me a slight old-school video game vibe, particularly reminiscent of the type of song you’d find in Earthbound.
So without further adieu, we have the grand finale track, “My Friends, You Bow to No One.” And oh boy, does it feel like a grand finale. Early into the track we get the pleasure of hearing Lauren’s fry vocals and I must say: they’re downright horrifying! While the lyrics in this track are a bit repetitive the song remains relatively dynamic, which is something I certainly appreciate. This song also incorporates some classical strings as well, along with a fantastic highly dramatic and theatrical sounding interlude before rushing into a fast session where Lauren belts out lyrics like an angry punk rock singer. Overall this song is a fantastic closer to the album that contains all the fitting drama of a cinematic climax, the type of thing this album seems to be going for all throughout.
While I didn’t get much of the movie references throughout Burning Alive, it never felt like that mattered. Maybe I’d enjoy the album more if I did, maybe I wouldn’t. It’s not important, what is important is that this album is good. Like, really good. It’s a cinematic feeling, deeply interesting metal album based on cinema itself and each song feels like it lends itself to that idea, for better (usually) or for worse (occasionally). The musicians on this project are crazy talented. Each one shines throughout the album at some point, showing off their technical skills while all still managing to come together as a fantastic cohesive whole.
For a final rating, I’d give this album a 7/10, as its an album that goes well beyond the average in quality and is one that I’ll surely enjoy relistening to in the future.
I recommend this album for any rock and/or metal fans and for any cinema buffs who will undoubtedly get more out of that side of the music than I will. And as per usual, I wanna thank you, the reader, for doing that thing where you read what I write for whatever reason. Hopefully you’ll continue doing that when we come back next week to talk about Ween’s 1997 record The Mollusk.