If you’re sick of the dull slo-fi quietude that inflicts so much of what passes as “indie” these days, don’t hesitate to check out the Burning Brides, a Philadelphia band that stops at nothing to recreate the feral vox and churning guitars of your adenoidal punk-metal youth. Philadelphia—a fraternal city whose greatest musical “scene” centered around slick soul producers Gamble and Huff—is now starting to catch the nation’s ear with dynamic acts like the snide Atom & His Package and the inflammable Brides. A menacing live act, the Burning Brides succeed in capturing the ruckus with their new album Fall of the Plastic Empire. Leader Dimitri Coats and his girlfriend/bassist Melanie Campbell, along with drummer Mike Ambs, fire up a pretty good populist album with plenty of snotty attitude. Strap on your air guitar and Walkman, and let the music roll.
Great tunes abound on the album. “Glass Slipper” is a rousing proto-punk tune that swipes the riff from Zep’s “Communication Breakdown” and sucks you in with Nugent-style raunch. “If I’m a Man” is a hurricane of growls and riffs, until the bridge, where a series of Malkmus-style songpoem lines make reference to buildings collapsing and plastic empires crumbling—you can impress your friends with the cool prophecies. “Stabbed in the Back of the Heart” (how’s that for a klunky but great image?) is an ace revenge tune, complete with a grandstanding guitar solo that is equal parts Tony Iommi (missing digits) and Paul Stanley (cool context).
The dead of winter is the best season for “Arctic Snow”, which features a propulsive pop (!) riff that churns like the earth’s axis of rotation, and detonates into some speed-metal riffing at the end. On the other hand, the seasons don’t change much at all with “Rainy Days”, a larynx-shredding scream punctuating a loping mass of noisy guitars. The closing track, “Fall of the Plastic Empire”, begins with an eerie Thurston Moore vocal simulation, which soon breaks into a great scream, and finally detours into various blistering guitar textures that will have you returning to Daydream Nation to check the influences.
Whenever a new big, loud, dumb guitar band comes bellowing out the box these days, the reviews inevitably compare them to either the Stooges or Black Sabbath. I’m tempted to make the comparison here, ‘cept the Burning Brides are usually a lot speedier, with a poppy anonymous texture in the vocal department. Although you get a fair share of screams, leader Dimitri Coats just doesn’t come across as a felt personality like the Ig or Ozzy. Or even Ted Nugent. Overall, it’s a loud—if anonymous—disc that sounds just like the metal you grew up on, crossed with the post-punk guitar noise love now. Indeed, it sounds kinda like what popular music might be like today if the Ramones never existed: sprawling, angry, noisy, and simple. It won’t knock your socks off as an album, but taken a cut at a time it can provide a terrific dose of raw, annoying, committed rawk.