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Saturday, August 02, 2008

CD Review: Blessed By a Broken Heart - Pedal to the Metal

Blessed By a Broken Heart - Pedal to the Metal
2008 Century Media
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



One thing about modern times; if you live long enough, you get to re-experience the past in sometimes refreshing ways, and sometimes disturbing ways. A lot of hard rock and metal kids now reaching their late teens and early twenties who used to snub the eighties are finding out there's more identification than previously met their floor-scuffing indifference. Certainly there's plenty to jibe the eighties for as there is with any decade, but the joke is now on the twenty-somethings because today's metal has already run smack into dead-end corners that the only way out has been to seek alternate measures to the breakdown-romanced way of things. Or in the case of bands like Sound and Fury and now Montreal's Blessed By a Broken Heart, the answer is to draft past rock theorems in order to find inspiration.

In the case of Blessed By a Broken Heart, they've spent enough time familiarizing themselves with eighties metal and dance rock, everyone from Lion to Europe to Pseudo Echo, but instead of completely hijacking that vibe, they merely fuse it into a metalcore conscript. This should sound very shaky on the front and it most certainly is a flashpoint marriage on their album Pedal to the Metal, particularly when you can jazzercise to this thing as quickly as you can aerial kick your way in young man's constitution of a slam pit.

Their quite hip album cover for Pedal to the Metal would either imply a Fu Manchu stoner stomp or a Sammy Hagar-tributizing rock fest. Sadly, what comes through on Pedal to the Metal is a dicey merge of eighties power rockers Saga (and to small latitudes Pretty Maids), blended with the more contemporary vein of Killswitch Engage and Atreyu.

What's particularly unnerving about Blessed By a Broken Heart's quirky sound is the fact they resurrect the dreckiest of the dreck from eighties hard rock including synthesized drum head integration (ugh, those died for a reason, fellas) and syrup-drained keys, all the while heaping breakdown after aggravating breakdown and spit-laden yelps between their would-be gnarly rock drives. Tuneful the songs may be in spirit, the fact that Blessed By a Broken Heart feels so inclined to force these two decades of thought together is not unlike being forced to French kiss someone with garlic and anchovies on their breath, sexy though they may be before lips' parting.

Younger listeners may or may not buy into this concept and perhaps some of the utterly nostaglic in the older sect might take to Pedal to the Metal since Blessed By a Broken Heart does their damnedest to throw their audience into a pliable time machine on songs such as "Move Your Body," "Doing It," "Ride Into the Night" and "Show Me What You Got." However, this deliberate engineering maneuver, creative though it may be, is simply a case of overextending two different facets of heavy music that would normally be at odds with each other. If not for the sparkling guitar work of Shred Sean, who peels licks and solos as effortlessly as ripe tangerines, then Blessed By a Broken Heart would merely be a pack of L.A. Guns-garbed goofs with a few snazzy ideas and lot of chutzpah. If anything, these guys possess a bundle of energy and will likely light up whatever stage they set foot on.

Surely the dark times we live in today has been reflected by equally dark music, and it's been quite some time since North American rock has been collectively upbeat. One can understand Blessed By a Broken Heart's motivation, which is to reclaim that essence of being young, stupid and full of life without the burdens of adulthood. Generation X in North America at least enjoyed a mostly ideal ride, the threat of a nuclear holocaust notwithstanding. However, despite Blessed By a Broken Dream's constant vigor and some spectacular fret wizardry, they uncork too many cliches from both eras of metal that provokes them. Unfortunately Pedal to the Metal itself provokes so much it ends up becoming a big pain in the ass.

Rating: **1/2

3 comments:

simon said...

I disagree. Maybe it is because I am young (21) but I quite like this new edgy sound that is being pioneered by bands like this and Enter Shikari. I know it attracts all these hip and cool scene people but that is no reason to discard the music. Blessed by a Broken Heart have fun with their songs but also have integrity too as their is some great guitar work on the album. I think the singing is good too and the synths fit in well. I like this fresh new approach to metalcore, as we all can see that metalcore as a genre is becoming a bit stale now.

Anonymous said...

i also disagree. i believe the whole point of the cheesy synth drums and keys is for the listener to immediately familiarize themselves with the 80's. The fact that these songs are put together well and don't have a useless bunch of lyrics to go with them is what makes this band unique and fresh. You'd expect something like this to come out of the heart of California or some other weird american state but rather was BRED in Canada. And just like the other guy said, they're just having fun, it says so in their songs. I just bought the cd and love it.

Anonymous said...

This really is the sort of band that you either love with all your hart or hate to hell and i think that is one of the reasons this band will do so well. I like them mainly because of the guitar work throughout it and because I was to young to be around durring the 80s scene, but I must admit when I first heard them ( I think I heard move your body first) I thought it was rubbish and a joke. Seeing there image only confirmed this for me but after listening to a few other tracks a few times I all of a sudden fell in love with this band. However if you don't like this band i can fully see why.