The Relapse Symphony
Born To Burn
With elements of glamour, catchy sing-along choruses and the wonders of guitar solos, ’70s and ’80s hard rock carved out a significantly influential niche for modern day musicians to heavily draw inspiration from. And when it came to writing and recording their second full-length album, Born To Burn, The Relapse Symphony picked up some pretty impressive tricks of the past.
The DC-based rockers who make up The Relapse Symphony probably shouldn’t ever be described as hair metal or glam, or any of the other cliché titles that came with rock from the ’80s, however, they pull heavily from tropes used by that era to create some gnarly alternative sounds, most notably through their consistent use of guitar solos. As the solo is generally disregarded in modern rock music, it’s always a breath of fresh air when songs like “A Perfect Lie,” “The Bitter End” and “Terror Generation” use some fancy finger work to make an amped up track even better.
And that’s what’s so fun about Born To Burn–The Relapse Symphony want you to know first and foremost that they are killer technical musicians. The intro track, aptly titled “The Beginning,” is a full instrumental piece that eases the listener into the rest of the record by building up some heavy rock riffs, exceptionally well controlled drums, and some intricate guitar work. The staff of your local Guitar Center would definitely be impressed.
Alongside some of these killer technical points, The Relapse Symphony also has a knack for making highly jammable music. “Tear Me Down” not only has a catchy chorus, but more importantly, has a really fun backing riff that gets your head bobbing immediately. While this track strays more to the pop side of alternative rock, tracks like “Dirty Little Tricks” lean toward a much heavier side incorporating unclean vocals and even a mini breakdown.
With such a strong instrumental backing, unfortunately, Born To Burn falls short lyrically. Stepping easily into clichés, Bret Von Dehl’s voice strains a little on the whiney side in some of the album’s less stellar tracks. “Give me something strong to kill this pain” he sings on “Down In Flames,” an idea shortly followed up with “In the shelter of a sedative… sweet taste of poisons left me comatose” in “Comatose.”
Luckily, however, The Relapse Symphony combats this weakness by gearing many of their tracks towards a live environment with moments like the double tracked vocals in the chorus of the record’s title track. The overall atmosphere presents a strong sing-a-long vibe that is sure to engage any show goer regardless of if they are familiar with the band or not.
Born To Burn works as a solid follow up to The Relapse Symphony’s debut release, Shadows, while also displaying a true musicianship not fully realized previously. Playing on the old school methods of hard rock, the band found a way to meld poppy choruses with a refined instrumental sophistication rarely played upon in today’s modern music. (Natasha Van Duser)