Burning Love – ‘Rotten Thing To Say’

Review by John Acres

Chris Colohan will cheat death or die trying. Mark my words. Looking back on his career as a vocalist and lyricist—Left For Dead, The Swarm, Ruination, Cursed, and now Burning Love—Colohan has been screaming for a very long time. It’s a late night lover’s quarrel and the sun hasn’t come up in some fifteen years. You’d think we’d heard it all before. And you’d think that it’s gotten old. But on Burning Love’s second full-length release,Rotten Thing To Say, Colohan seems to have come back from the crossroads with something truly unsettling: he sounds younger. There are moments on this record—the track Tremors is one of them—that remind me of the first time I heard his voice, fifteen years ago: five-foot-something soaked in sweat, emerging from a parted sea of disaffected teens, skilfully screaming his lungs out all over the basement bar of a Nowheresville, Ontario mob front.

But youth isn’t everything. Colohan’s lyrics strike a signature balance between the personal and the profound like never before. The themes are fresh yet familiar, mature yet ageless—always earnest; they could be folk songs. On the track entitled, Karla, Colohan tackles the difficult subject of serial killer Karla Homolka, uttering the line, “Three days is a long time for a Catholic girl to die,” and you know what? It is. I went to primary school steps from where Leslie Mahaffy was abducted. I remember the duck-and-cover-type lessons that shortly followed her disappearance. I was ten. They told us kids to keep our eyes peeled for anything suspicious and to stay out of the woods behind the school. She lived just off my walk home, a home where my parents still reside today. And that’s the effect. Colohan has insight into underlying social and political issues without sounding trite or exploitive, calling attention to things you’d like to forget, but are better to remember, and to be understood. (Listen to the tracks, Hateful Comforts and Pig City I for further examples.)

Colohan doesn’t do it alone. On this record are guitarists Pat Marshall and Andrus Meret, along with drummer Easton Lannaman. Marshall and Meret function as a single entity on this record, finishing each other’s sentences, and tastefully questioning and answering almost every other line—which get at the roots of rock ‘n’ roll.

It is the first full-length by the band without bassist and vocalist Dave O’Connor (TV Freaks). O’Connor is a great frontman in his own right, and it was uncanny seeing the two talented frontmen bantering back and forth on stage, like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley in the same band. O’Connor—now full bore with Welland, Ontario punks, TV Freaks—was replaced with bassist Alex Goodall, who lays down a different and well-executed foundation.

Recorded at God City Studios and produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, Rotten Thing To Say is of the high audio quality you’d expect. It’s a refreshing change from the band’s previous releases, leaving the listener feeling like past recordings are a whole other thing all together. It’s their best record to date. If you haven’t listened to anything loud in a long time, you have a side that you need to get back in touch with. And these guilt-free bad vibes feel good to get behind.

Visit the band’s most updated page, here: http://burninglove416.blogspot.ca/

Rotten Thing To Say is available through Southern Lord, iTunes, and others.