Blessed By A Broken Heart

Feel The Power

Written by: BL on 06/04/2012 17:51:48

Blessed By A Broken Heart started way back around the early 2000s, sometime around '04 as an underground metalcore band from Montreal. Things never really picked up and for a long time the band had no place in the popular music scene. But then in 2007 with member changes and a new record deal, they recorded their followup "Pedal To The Metal" which came out in 2008 and featured a previously unheard of combination of (then) current metalcore with sleek yet cheeky 80s glam metal and pop. There was crazy guitar shredding in abundance thanks to their new guitar magician Sean Maier (appropriately dubbed 'Shred Sean'), synth toms, and 80s keyboard synthesizers everywhere. I thought it was brilliantly fun and so over the top that I ended up listening to it over and over and just wished there was more of it (though it seemed that was the unpopular opinion around here). A long time since, like almost four years on, we have the next followup in "Feel The Power", where the transition to full on glam metal is near complete. The metalcore elements have been slowly wittled down to being token inclusions instead of equal parts of the package, and a lot of the tongue-in-cheek humor is nowhere to be seen (for better or worse, you decide).

The production being so much more polished is the first noticeable aspect of the album. And while it may sound super, super clean, it does at times sound perhaps a little too clean and processed when things get down and dirty. Frontman and singer Tony Gambino sounds worlds improved since the last album however, and with rhythm guitarist Sam ‘Ryder’ Robinson providing backing harmonies, at least the clean vocals sound great with some superb melodies. There's a lot less screaming and harsh vocals, but they are used appropriately where needed, which is what's important since the music overall has gotten a bit lighter. The first songs "Deathwish" and "Shut Up And Rock" are fairly simple in their design and intent, mainly as fist pumping tunes, but illustrate this particular new Blessed By A Broken Heart style well and provides a great way to get the show rolling at 120mph. "Love Nightmare" by contrast seems deceptively soft until the heavier breakdown kicks in and the screams make their full return. It's got more of that older metalcore edge still present and should keep the metalcore fans of older Blessed relatively happy. The first single "Forever" might seem bit too cheesy on first listen especially with its ridiculous power metal guitar lines and lyrics however once you warm up to it, is an addictive 80s sing-a-long and a welcome addition. Though welcome is an understatement for the following track "Holdin' Back For Nothin'", which is my personal album highlight because it reminds me why I had such a blast listening to "Pedal To The Metal". Everything just works on this track, the vocals, the guitar lines (both the shred leads and the breakdowns), the keyboards, and that chorus, man that chorus is quickly becoming a favourite of mine - just great for long car journeys in the sun especially.

It's a bit of a shame then, that the following track "I've Got You" seems like such a misplaced step. Harking back to those 80s rock power ballads, it tries to sound heartfelt but comes across as a little forced and just too derivative to have any real identity compared to the classics it's paying homage to. "Rockin' All Night" fares a little better by being a bit more of a no brainer, though is no less what it says on the tin and has been done before in a billion iterations - a song about .. hey you guessed it, partying and 'rockin' all night and having the time of our (your) lives. "Scream It Like You Mean It" is where the album really picks back up for me, and here it's the guitar and vocals that impress me the most again. The clean harmonies in the verse fit delightfully, and the chorus is memorable too, though the best part has to be the guitar segment where Sean plays a slow, smooth solo over some sweet sounding rhythm guitar lines - the set up is close to perfect. Similarly, "Skate Or Die" and "Innocent Blood" both return to an older Blessed By A Broken Heart sound, the latter in particular utilising heavier segments well and engaging guitar work that makes it a thoroughly strong track by all definitions. The closer "Sleepless Nights" seems to continue this good work at least initially, the synth in the beginning in the right place to draw one's attention in and there's some catchy vocals to make proceedings pretty enjoyable. But the last stretch does get a bit muddled and lost somewhere inbetween all of Shred Sean's mental antics with his guitar solos a little bit, bordering on showmanship to the extreme at times (not easy for me to say since I usually really admire and enjoy his work for this band).

So, am I feelin' the power? Well for the most part. I would say that "Feel The Power" is a solid enough album that definitely plays to the strengths of their 80s source material more than their current metalcore component. Those of you lusting for more glam again without having to put up with the sillyness of bands like Steel Panther (as amusing as their lyrics are, ahem..) may find much to like from Blessed By A Broken Heart's latest release. As for me, I did kind of wish that the album had more songs like "Holdin' Back For Nothin'" or some of the more 'fun' aspects from the last album (I miss those drums), but on the other, I can appreciate the band straightening themselves up and trying to show some progression too. Either way, hopefully I won't have to wait another three years for more to come.


Download: Holdin' Back For Nothin', Scream It Like You Mean It, Innocent Blood
For the fans of: Atreyu, Steel Panther, Mötley Crüe, Stryper
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.01.2012
Tooth & Nail Records

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