Sunday, 29 June 2014

BL'AST - The Expression of Power


A lot has been said about BL'AST in recent months and as their currently on a UK/European run of live dates, it seemed like the right time for me to check out their latest record, The Expression of Power (an alternative version of their debut album), which recently came out via Southern Lord Records earlier this year. Original members Clifford Dinsmore and Mike Neider have been joined by Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo (Queens of The Stone Age and tonnes more!) for the tour and while it's nearly over, the shows they've played so far have been really well received.

The Expression of Power has been released digitally, on CD and as a three-LP set. Both the digital and the CD versions contain their 2nd and 3rd recorded versions of the album, while the three-LP set includes all three recorded versions alongside a unreleased demo. The album was recorded and re-recorded three times during 1984/1985. Now of you're still with me, read on!

Tracklist:-

(The Fane Session - 3rd Recording)
1. Time To Think
2. Surf And Destroy
3. Fuckin' With My Head
4. E.I.B
5. Our Explanation
6. The Future
7. Something Beyond
8. Break It Down
9. Time Waits (For No One)
10. I Don't Need It
11. It's Alive
12. Look Into Myself
13. Nightmare

(The Track Session - 2nd Recording)
14. Time To Think
15. Surf And Destroy
16. Fuckin' With My Head
17. E.I.B
18. Our Explanation
19. The Future
20. Break It Down
21. Time Waits For No One
22. I Don't Need It
23. It's Alive
24. Scream For Tomorrow
25. Nightmare

The opening bars of Time To Think are a confusing mess of feedback and samples and the off-kilter time signatures of the first verse hurt my head, as I try and decipher what’s gong on. The music itself is good but it doesn’t really settle into a groove. BL’AST play honest, raw punk and this record features the original line-up from back when the album was recorded in 84/85.  Surf And Destroy is more focused and while short, it hints at better stuff to come. Fuckin’ With My Head features some great groovy, stoner-style riffs in between the surf-punk verses.  E.I.B flashes passed in thirty seconds, filled with the kind of old-school punk that inspired many of today’s powerviolence bands.

I’m really growing into the album now as Our Explanation rings out and I’m getting used to the transitions, which can be a bit harsh at times. It’s a mix of punk and stoner that appears as a bit of a sound-clash but improves throughout. The Future sees BL’AST expanding their sound and at times it reminds me of Sacred Reich for some reason. The solo is brilliant too! They pick up the pace again with Something Beyond and the drumming here rules. I think I’m beginning to truly get this album and BL’AST’s style now. Break It Down as more urgency but also shows that BL’AST have hit their stride. More killer solos and fast punk attitude.

Time Waits (For No One) features some stop/start moments and some more glimpses of stoner/doom. I Don’t Need It on the other hand is totally different. It’s over before you know it! It’s Alive is frantic. I think it’s the best track on the album and Look Into Myself carries on the intensity. Nightmare closes out the Fane Session side of the record with crawling, creeping atmosphere. That’s due to the bass-filled intro and the whispered vocals. It’s another stoner number and it highlights how far BL’AST have developed as they move through the record.

The second side of The Expression of Power features the songs from the Track Session which was BL’AST second recording session for the original album. The only difference being that Something Beyond and Look Into Myself were omitted and replaced with Scream For Tomorrow. I’m not going to go into a much detail on the second side for obvious reasons. Time To Think doesn’t feature the sample here and sounds more focused. The overall sound on the second side is a lot rawer. 

The alternative versions on this side of the record highlight how much better the remastering job from Brad Boatright was on the first. Scream For Tomorrow was not on the first side. It follows the same punk formula but also includes some rock n roll influences too. It’s not as fast as other songs either. When I first approached The Expression of Power, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I listened to the album though, it grew on me and even though it’s off-kilter and hard to follow at points, it’s still well worth checking out if you’re a fan on punk.

You can stream The Expression of Power via Southern Lord Records here:-



You can also purchase it as a digital download or CD from the above page.

European fans can purchase the 3xLP version from Southern Lord here - http://www.southernlordeurope.com/store/view/the-expression-of-power

US fans can pick the CD up here (the 3xLP doesn't seem to be available) - https://www.southernlord.com/releases/view/the-expression-of-power

BL'AST are currently on a UK/European tour and while the UK leg has finished, they still have some dates left to play. Check out the tour poster below:-


BL'AST Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blast
Southern Lord Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin
Southern Lord Records Europe Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SouthernLordEurope

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