Artist: Blind Channel
Label: Ranka Kustannus
Blind Channel, in the span of a few months, has quickly become one of my favorite live acts. How painful is it then that they haven’t actually had an album for me to listen to all summer, especially when this music is perfect for sunny days (okay, we haven’t had many of those this summer, but still)? October 1st, 2016, is the official release date of Revolutions, but I can’t deny my excitement when I got my hands on an advance copy of the album so I could start enjoying it right away! I expected a few of these songs to be familiar from Spotify and their live shows, all of which suggested that this was going to be a great album.
Check out the album here:
The album sounded promising already on paper – Jonas Olsson did the production and Jens Bogren was on mixing duty. The latter has come onto our radar fairly frequently in recent days, with one of his most recent and well-appreciated projects (at least around Musicalypse HQ) being Amorphis’ Under the Red Cloud. But what about the songs themselves?
01. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
The album starts out with “Bullet (With Your Name on It)”, with it’s Oriental-sounding tinking noises in the beginning. They act a bit like an intro, which reminds me a little of Meteora by Linkin Park’s intro. It’s a pretty high-energy track and a good place to start things off – I could see it being a good song to get a live show going with too. It’s got a little bit of that angry energy without actually sounding like an angry song: “You are not my friend!” This song is a good introduction to their sound as it has a lot of the aspects that make ‘violent pop’ with vocalist Niko Moilanen‘s rapping seamlessly blending into heavier parts of the song, mixed in with some catchy pop singalong choruses – it works very well.
02. Darker than Black
“Darker than Black” was the first song I had heard from the band via it’s simplistic but nevertheless excellent music video. I was hooked the second I heard the “whoa-oa-ao!” part. This was actually the song that got me into their music, because it’s catchy and it reminds me of a lot of things I used to love in my youth without actually sounding like any of them. You also get a really good impression of Joel Hokka‘s gentler vocals as well. The two vocalists harmonize perfectly together, creating a phenomenal blend, and the way they trade off in the C-part work so well to build things up to another round of that chorus. And who can’t sing along with that?
03. Enemy for Me
The newest pre-release single, “Enemy for Me,” is the actual angry song on the album, in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of some of Bullet for My Valentine’s songs, not in sound but in feeling – think “You Want a Battle (Here’s a War)”. There are some pleasantly raw lyrics in this one, not least of which is the obvious shouting part: “You fucking controller / The way you control her / This shit isn’t over / ‘Til I say it’s over” and “That’s right motherfucker / I know where you live!” I’d be curious to know what this song is about because it seems rather personal.
“Pitfall” is a slow-groove song, as much as a band like this can be considered ‘slow’ – it’s not as energetic as some others, but it has a nice flow and a smooth, laid-back vibe, which is occasionally pumped up with some rapping bits to good effect. If I was to put it on a playlist with another song, it’d definitely go alongside Santa Cruz’s latest single, “Skydiving Without a Parachute,” as it has a similar flow. I had a harder time deciding about this song than some of the others, but it does have this sort of relaxed, heavy riff to it that’s pretty cool, and a really short, chill solo that I can certainly appreciate. It’s also in the optimal place for a change-up at this point in the album, with the first three songs being total hard-hitters.
05. Deja FU
The first time I heard “Deja FU”, my thought process was something like, “What the fuck is this? How many genres can you cram into one song? I have no idea what is happening here… why can’t I stop listening to this?” That remains fairly true to this day. This song makes no sense on paper – it has aspects of pop, rock, hip-hop, metal/metalcore, and more. It shouldn’t work. I almost doesn’t. Except it does. I can’t explain it, but it’s great. “I know it wasn’t smart / But it was fun” is a great line too, though in spite of listening to this song like an addict getting their fix since it came out, I still couldn’t tell you what it’s about lyrically. Also, it has a fun music video, which I believe is made up from live footage from when they opened for Simple Plan on their Baltic Tour. This is a great party song and a great live track as well – and it has one of those perfect clap-along music-free interludes towards the end! This is the most experimental song on the album, so if you can get into it, you’ll likely be able to get into the rest.
06. Hold on to Hopeless
“Hold on to Hopeless” starts off with high energy and then slows down, maintaining a medium-level average of hype throughout and manages to linger in your mind even after it’s over. This is one of the poppier tracks on the album, but I like the way Moilanen throws little rap bits in so sneakily that you almost don’t notice it. This is one of those songs that I imagine girls screaming for during live shows. The lyrics seem to be about how harsh the world is, so let’s be there for each other: “We’ve found something that changes everything.”
07. What’s Wrong
“What’s Wrong” is the slowest track on the album, and while it doesn’t reach boy-band levels of slow, this is a song where I can imagine hands in the air and maybe a few lighters up there too. It has those very alluring lyrics that I imagine young people will latch onto and remember affectionately no matter how old they get. One might refer to this song as the ‘moisturizer’ on the album as such. The track has good melodies and doesn’t get boring, which is always a risk with these high-energy bands. I have to appreciate the way they add screams into a slow song and make it work, much in the way The Used has done (though I can’t say they sound anything like The Used). Again, Moilanen and Hokka’s dual vocals add another layer of depth to the mix, along with the somewhat echo-y guitar sounds.
08. My Revolution
This is the high-energy track that follows the slow song. It’s in exactly the right place on the album to pick you up after the break from “What’s Wrong”. At this point I’m finding it a little bit hard to write about the songs individually because they all have a lot of the same elements, yet they don’t all sound the same. This one has a fair bit of that quick-singing that’s almost rapping, and a catchy but a bit heavy chorus. They just seem to have gotten everything right with this song.
09. Another Sun
This sort of style reminds me of some things that I can’t quite place. Maybe there’s a hint of 2000s -era AFI blended in with some things I like from Bring Me the Horizon’s last album, and more. Moilanen and Hokka’s alternating styles of singing are again a highlight. It’s a bit different from the other songs on the album, but at this point it’s good to have another small change-up to keep things fresh. In fact, this song parallels “Blasphemy” on BMtH’s last album in both style (though this one is a fair bit faster) and album position, and that was one of my favorite songs on that album, so these guys have definitely done well with it. The song has that sort of feeling like, “we’re wrapping things up soon, but don’t worry, it’s still going to be good!”
I recognized this track from the band’s Spotify library, and have listened to it a few times already as such. Since you might know this track already, it’s familiar ground to start wrapping things up with. However, it still maintains the album’s energy without getting lazy towards then end. Catchy music can get repetitive, but this sort of music manages to stay fresh throughout, so even if I can’t say much about it individually at this point, it’s still a really good track.
11. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)
The final track is a cover of Ed Sheeran’s song that these guys have unquestionably made their own and nailed it in the process. This earworm was stuck in my head for about a week after listening to it maybe twice. It’s heavier, faster, fresher, and catchier than the original. I think it’s been improved on in every possible way, though I will admit that I am not a fan of Ed Sheeran. However, I like when a mediocre song is made great with a bit of a makeover by a different band. They’ve taken this song and implemented everything that makes Blind Channel ‘Blind Channel’ and that makes it a perfect closing cover for the album.
I feel like I want to call this album “nostalgia for times to come.” It gives me all those great feelings from my youth, but these songs aren’t associated with any moments in time. With that in mind, it only makes sense that I am going to have some great times to this music in the future and someday I’ll be listening to this album and reflecting fondly on them. Perhaps the lyrics are aimed at a more teenager-aged crowd than me, so I might not be connecting quite as well to the music as I would have been when I was 15, but I’m 100% certain that if I had found these guys at that age they would’ve been one of my favorite bands.
Blind Channel definitely have their own style and even if they’re using the same pattern in every song, they’re keeping it fresh. The guitars and drums aren’t lazy or mechanical like in some pop music, which sets this album above so many other bands. As well, the flow of their songs goes very smoothly as it moves from part to part, which is why songs like “Deja FU” work even if they seem like they shouldn’t. And the construction of movement is fast and fluid, even if the songs aren’t always fast. I do think the album could’ve been longer, as it only clocks in at just under 39 minutes, but if that was the case, it would need another song or two, as the songs shouldn’t be made any longer than they are – they’d get bogged down or over-full. As it stands, I’m quite satisfied with the songs and their length as they are.
This is exactly the sort of music you want to have playing in parties or outside at the beach in the summer. And this music translates incredibly well into their live performances, making for memorable shows, so you can’t go wrong there either. And from a handful of 20-somethings who write all their own music no less. To be honest, my mind is a little bit blown here.
Rating: 9.5/10, 5 stars
1. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
2. Darker than Black
3. Enemy for Me
5. Deja FU
6. Hold on to Hopeless
7. What’s Wrong
8. My Revolution
9. Another Sun
11. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)