Do Or Die
Hardcore | Punk
hardcore legends burn rewrite the book on their long-awaited full length album, ‘do or die’
By Nathan Leigh
September 11, 2017
NYC hardcore veterans Burn would have been legends if all they ever did was drop their 4 song self-titled EP in 1990. Though the initial line-up split in 92, the core of singer Chaka Malik and guitarist Gavin Van Vlack never officially called it quits. They re-emerge in 2001 with a new rhythm section and renewed energy, before quieting down again for another decade. Burn takes their goddamn time. Now, nearly 30 years after first getting together, Burn is back with their debut full length album, Do Or Die. It’s been worth the wait.
Do or Die by Burn
Enlisting Converge’s Kurt Ballou behind the boards, the band shows they haven’t lost an ounce of power from their heyday. The songs burst at the seams with explosive energy. From the skipping dissonance that opens “Fate,” Burn wastes no time. Their songs change up on a dime, from breakneck tempos to heavy breakdowns, refusing any easy choices. Ballou mostly stays out of the way, letting the band do what they do best. The few moments of studio manipulation add a little variation, like on the tweaked drums on the impressive “Flame.” But mostly, Do Or Die simply showcases one of the best hardcore bands in history being one of the best hardcore bands in history.
Highlights like “Dead Identity” and “Unfuck Yourself” find Malik and Van Vlack reveling in their chemistry. Malik may be more famous for Orange 9mm, but there’s a fire when teamed up with Van Vlack that’s just fucking magical. The most surprising contributions to the record are the updated takes on “Last Great Sea” and “New Morality,” two old songs that had circulated as demos for years, and popped up on the band’s Last Great Sea EP on Equal Vision back in 2002. It’s a pretty common story that veteran acts struggle to recapture the magic from their early days on later records. But here, a veteran act busts out 2 songs from their early days and while they’re welcome contributions, they’re eclipsed by the new shit. (Again: “Dead Identity.”) Though it’s a fucked up statement on the state of the world that the political messages on “New Morality” could easily have been written in 2017. Everything old is new again, or something.
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait 30 years for another full length record. But if we do: I have no doubt that burn in 2047 will be just as heavy, and just as essential.
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