Bridges To Burn

Written by: PP on 23/01/2009 17:02:12

California based 16 have been around since 1993 but they've only managed to put out four full length records before 2009's "Bridges To Burn". In the process, they've built a considerable following and are consequently on Relapse Records's high-profile artist list. Doesn't ring a bell? Don't worry, I was equally clueless about the band before listening to their fifth album "Bridges To Burn".

Ironically, one reason why these guys have appeal to such a wide audience is precisely because their music sounds so ugly. They are basically a sludgy, down-tuned rock/metal hybrid with an equally disturbed vocalist on top. He might not spit out cookie monster growls or screams, but his primal yell is probably the very definition of 'ugly' in itself - it's intense and overwhelming, but at the same time suitable; imagine any High On Fire record here. It'd be hard to imagine any other singing style fitting this well on 16's guitar sound anyway. Each song is guitar-, or should I say groove-, driven, where the muscular, macho sound allows for the vocalist's roar to shine. Some of the songs are remotely catchy, "Flake", "Permanent Good One" and "Monday Bloody Monday" being the prime examples, whilst rest of them are happy merely crawling muddily forward.

Want some band references? Lets start with Helmet, except remove Page Hamilton's trademark riffing. Then take some of the Pantera-tuned guitars of Down and down-tune them a little. Then bring it bands like Kylesa, Melvins and others into the mix, and you're close, but still quite far from "Bridges To Burn". Quite an impressive list, but I have to say I'm not entirely sold here. Whereas High On Fire has enough amazing chord progressions to make your jaw drop, the ugly sludgy guitar groove of 16 leaves me a bit cold in the end, it's just the same grilled/fried sound for the duration of the entire album; some variation wouldn't hurt.

Download: Flake, Permanent good One
For the fans of: Down, Kylesa, High On Fire, Helmet
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.01.2009

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