Burn has peppered their history with releases. Do or Die adds to their one album and three EPs since 1990. They may not equal much output over 27 years, but each has triggered myriad inspiration for many bands. Gavin Van Vlack (Absolution) and Chaka Malik (later of Orange 9MM) joined forces to fuse one of the most unique bands in the NYHC scene. Others would run with this style, but these dudes were first. Two graf writers ignited turntables in 1990 without looking back on their self-titled, four track Revelation Records debut. 2001/2002 saw a one-two punch with Cleanse LP (Equal Vision) and Last Great Sea EP (Revelation). But that eleven year gap was second to their 14 year gap until 2016’s …From the Ashes (Bridge 9). Seeing every major player label has been chasing them, Do or Die follows that path, released September 8, 2017 on Deathwish Inc.
But the last few years, Burn have been doing shows and gathering momentum at a faster pace than other spurts. Chaka looks fit and spews wisdom as fiery as ever. Their live presence is electricity barely contained. Chakas intensity transmits wonderfully here. The vibrant performance is classic. Gavin Van Vlack’s bizarre guitar work exhibits a unique approach to hardcore, noise, and rock. Now equipped with the rhythm section of Tyler Krupsky and Abbas Muhammed, this frantic melee dancing on taut piano wire births a sharp record with Do or Die. Chaka has a feel of every word being profound and prophetic. Audiences pay attention, clinging to his tense, engaging delivery.
Burn’s characteristics shine here. Their calling cards of off-beat tempos leading into bouncing NYHC rhythms are bountiful. The guitars often seem to contradict each other with a ‘contrasting as complimentary’ approach. Burn presents tough, crunchy riffs that are infectious; melodic guitar lines balanced with respites of stability. All of which delve into noisy rough tangents.
“Fate” opens and blazes” through. “Ill Together” sliding groove is enticing. Muhammed’s snare is precise and holds the chaos together. “Dead Identity” howls of anger over a caustic riff. The title track has layered vocals; some just frantic repetition. The drum pummel and charge in a constant rolling beat. But Van Vlack holds back with a sparse, slow guitar line. The push is phenomenal and tears the listener in two ways. This is the mantra for either a mental collapse or an incendiary chant before changing the world. Explosive. “Unfuck Yourself” continues the challenging lyrics. Krupsky’s bass is allowed a loose leash and revels in the opportunity. Mixed up front, it is glorious. A quitter tune, it still is stirring
On Deathwish Inc this time, the Converge fam reps hard here with production by Kurt Ballou and a slick montage of eclectic clip art collected by Jake Bannon. Howie Weinberg mastered Do or Die. His experience is eccentric (Google him. Rush to Lester Young to Slayer to Tom Waits). Burn have returned. Even if they lay dormant for another decade, a gem is here now. PMA flowing, sitting idle after listening to Do or Die is not possible.
RIYL: Candiria, VOD, Bane, 108, Quicksand, Fahrenheit 451