Review: Bleak – ‘Burns Inside’

Posted: March 27th, 2008
Contributed By: Nick

Click Here to Purchase
Released in 2006 via Helsinki Music Company
Bleak is:
Caleb (Vocals)
Madu (Guitar)
Crab (Guitar)
Zeta (Bass)
Junior (Drums)

Overview: Bleak was birthed in 1997 in Finland and began experimenting with sounds and determining what direction the band was to venture. After disbanding at the beginning of the decade, Bleak re-grouped and re-tooled in 2002, as they began to truly define themselves as a band. In 2004, Bleak gave Finland’s radio waves a test run with their song “Crossword”. The track performed well-well enough to earn them a deal with the Finnish Helsinki Music Company in 2005. The band hit the studio and tracked this, their full length debut album entitled ‘Burns Inside‘, released in 2006.

The Good: This is a section where Bleak’s ‘Burns Inside‘ excels, because this album embodies the word good. This gem awakens with “Play”, a whisper that quickly catapults you into an enrapturing blend of smooth yet energetic vocals, fierce, but not overpowering guitars and bass, and punchy, robust drums; “Play” also sees Bleak using its musical wizardry, manipulating a bevy of crescendos and decrescendos to give the song ample body and texture. The lively and driving “What You Are” juices things up, consistently framing harmonies and melodies at just the right moments, and sending the listener out with a virile finale. ‘Burns Inside‘ continues its angelic waltz with “Crossword”, where melancholy vocals and towering instrumentals concoct one of the album’s most majestic cuts; although seeming to have come to an end, the fruition of “Crossword” is fully achieved with “Modual”, a pair of songs that complete each other and show Bleak’s subtle yet ingenious method of allowing the songs to feed off their predecessors and grow and blossom even further. “Any Given Day” is perhaps the most soulful track from ‘Burns Inside‘, as its disposition is as cathartic and heartfelt as it is tranquil and soothing. The vibrant and colorful “Silvertigo” is brought to life through effective vocal texturing, and the song can be best described as the band walking across eggshells without shattering a single one. “Don’t Touch” is the realization of the potent energy hinted at with “Silvertigo”, as the gritty and moving song is succinct in its explosiveness, saving its knockout punch for a crushing ending. Even the weakest point of ‘Burns Inside‘, the simple, straight-forward “Stains” is not to be taken lightly, relying on desperate vocals and sonic guitar work to prove its place. Bleak’s real creative prowess is highlighted by “[9]“, where a multitude of pattern and volume fluctuations seems to only make the band perform better and with more pizzazz, finally firing off an angst-filled exit wound on a song that will ultimately leave chills running up and down your spine. ‘Burns Inside‘ tones down for the surprising “M”, a track comprised of only vocals, guitars, and orchestral embellishments that makes this reflective ballad the album’s porcelain doll. The sprightly and expansive “Good Girl” eases you back into the lush sounds of the full band, proving you can show some teeth without ripping heads off with some attention to detail. ‘Burns Inside‘ reaches its last stand with the title track “Burns Inside”, an organic tune buoyed by surging guitars and captivating vocals that ices one hell of a cake.

The Bad: For all its charm and luster, ‘Burns Inside‘ has only one fatal downfall-lack of individual song identity. Although each song is a vital contributor in its own way to the gracefulness of ‘Burns Inside‘, you may find yourself listening straight through the album without being able to pick apart one song from the next. Sadly, this is a rather bruising factor to such a splendid effort, as I still find myself after tireless listens checking to see which song is currently spinning. Other than the album’s colors running together a bit, ‘Burns Inside‘ is just about error less.

Bottomline: The saddest part about this album is that it has not yet seen a formal release in the United States, a crime of simply withholding so many from a jaw-dropping album. Bleak has managed to capture and bottle the best attributes of several of rock’s more influential artists-Deftones, Glassjaw, Far, Taproot, Flaw-and pour them out onto their own musical canvas to craft ‘Burns Inside‘; if only Bleak could someday soon land on U.S. soil, then they too would be a part of the very same list used to describe them.

Rating: 9 out of 10