To say the Blood Brothers play hardcore music is like proclaiming that ‘N Sync are a band — the declarations are indeed true, but they both stretch their respective label. OK, so that analogy was lame. But the point is this: the Blood Brothers subvert all of hardcore’s typical trends to send the genre crashing headfirst into angles of arty abstraction and avant-garde tendencies to arrive at a different posture, style, and disposition altogether. To a genre based around tough guy stances and downtuned powerchords, this is more than refreshing — it’s essential.
March on Electric Children, the wild-eyed sophomore full-length from this Seattle, Washington five-some, successfully filters intelligence and epic artistry into the stagnant punk/hardcore scene to rouse energy, thought, and cultural outrage simultaneously. Incorporating punk’s snotty attitude, hardcore’s intensity and pop’s bitter hooks, the Blood Brothers craft a concept album of deceitful characters, societal plotlines and bleak imagery that takes aim at everyone from mass media to skin-deep idols to money-grubbing corporations.
Even though the Blood Brothers’ two free-flying vocalists spit venom at each other for maximum thrills, it’s not as important as how they say it, but why the say it. If by stating “short story and music by the Blood Brothers” in their liner notes is any indication, this quintet isn’t content with simply tearing through 25 minutes of cranium exploding post-hardcore. No, March on Electric Children is something more — much more.
With Electric Children, the Blood Brothers have orchestrated an album that is equal parts ear-contorting sonic dynamism, highbrow philosophy and a thinking man’s revolution. In one word: epic. It transcends the clatter of guitar, bass and drums to form a profound piece of art that captures sonic brilliance in both a musical sense and philosophical significance. In a desensitized world of decaying values, this truth telling reality check on our culture holds more truth than it does mere pessimism. Now, suddenly, lines such as, “When you are fucking him will you scream dollar signs?” don’t only seem shocking, but also deathly honest.
This album’s mere existence proves that the punk rock world — in some twisted form — still possesses the subversive counterculture mentality that was once vital to its existence. March on Electric Children is at once an example of what classic punk would have evolved into and something entirely new and different.
But these post-hardcore fire-breathers aren’t all theory and no action. In fact, they back their nihilistic philosophy with enough musical brawn to go toe to toe with nearly anyone in the noise brewing business. Behind a vocal paradox that is at once sweet pop and snarled punk, March on Electric Children even sounds like a violent revolution with rhythms that punch, guitars that kick and vocals that scream.
A landmark in the hardcore community, the Blood Brothers sound nothing like their hatred stirring peers and are more properly aligned with avant-garde experimentalists with a knack for insanity. Basically, March on Electric Children emits profound thought and revolutionary ire, not simple powerchords and monotonous screaming.
As a testament to their unorthodox tendencies, the Blood Brothers slash through the soft skin of pop with songs that sear with crazy-eyed vocals on two of the album’s best moments — “Meet Me at the Waterfront After the Social” and “Kiss of the Octopus”. But what verifies March on Electric Children as an avant-garde success is that it melds samplers, synthesizers, and even pianos into their revolutionary sound — techniques unheard of in the close minded hardcore community. The sound culminates in the closing three-minute scream-athon of “American Vultures” that takes place over a sole piano unleashing rabid ferocity rarely heard from the classical instrument.
But that anti-corporate, piano-laden ode represents more than meets the ear; it portrays this Seattle band’s entire musical plight of tearing normal confines to shreds and stitching them back together as they see fit. In doing so, the Blood Brothers prove they exist completely separate from punk rock and hardcore as genres, yet utterly vital to their survival as music that hurdles boundaries and transgresses limits.
Ultimately, March on Electric Children is a post-hardcore album that is as prophetic as an epic novel, but still manages to bruise like a fistfight.