Album Review: Blunt – Broken Down

Just read the press release for Blunt’s new album Broken Down, and you’ll learn there’s a lot to like about this quartet from De Kalb, Illinois. There are the stock-in-trade quotes about what the band is and what they want to be. There are all the conformist comparisons to who the band sounds like and allusions to who inspires their composition. All of that is informative and helps give some tangible frame of reference to the band, but it doesn’t speak to the band’s desire or heart.

However, the critical information that grants true insight into Blunt is seeded in plain sight throughout the release: this is a band started by guys who are inspired by organic sound of rock music, and this album establishes the love and pure, unwavering fanhood for the classic rock and heavy metal that the band worships. The production of the record is rough around the corners and downright frayed in some portions, but somehow the clouds deferentially part and Broken Down feels like Kill ‘em All in the sense that they are both gleefully unpolished labors of adulation (and before someone puts words in my mouth, I am not suggesting that Blunt is the second coming of Metallica…not yet, anyway.) The dog-eared edges of the simple riff from the opening “Working Poor” take you back to the building blocks of rock and metal, that solid crossroads where Black Sabbath planted a flag so many decades ago. This riff is custom built for guitar solo to spring forth like a viper. The solos and exhibitions throughout the album aren’t technically overwhelming or supercharged with insane velocity, but they fit, damn it, and sometimes that’s more important.

There is an intrinsic, instinctive likeability in the music of Blunt, particularly for those well-heeled in the sludgy fuzz rock of the late 1970’s. Not so different from bands from the Orange Goblin school, Blunt utilizes that warm, rounded guitar tone. Obviously, this is an excuse to listen to Broken Down as loud as possible. Just scope out the epic “24 Pack” and as the bass thuds by you’ll find it nigh impossible to not feel the rhythm projecting through the notes as though through a wall of Marshalls. At the very least, you’ll tap your foot. There’s a lot of groove to be had here, as Blunt demonstrates a fanatical understanding of the relationship between heavy metal’s power and rock and roll’s traditional sensibilities.

Listen to throwbacks like “Let the Dead Bury the Dead” or “Sinner/Winner” and you’ll find yourself transported to a hazy din of a basement dive bar somewhere, buried where the uptight building owner doesn’t want the upstanding general public to associate with the counter-culture detritus of rock and roll. It’s about 115 degrees in the basement and yet it’s stuffed to the gills with people who want to feel the release of a great night out at a show. It’s louder than hell and no one can hear themselves think above the crushing weight of power riffs; attractive women dance unencumbered while friends nod in unison to the beat. This is (is it?) the dream of Blunt, and it’s what they burned into their record.

Blunt did a hell of a lot of great things for this record, and their passion for their musical paradigm is an ever-present reminder of why we all feel so connected to our music in the first place. With a little refinement, big things could be down the road for them, and you should hop on the bandwagon now.

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