Musicianship – 8.5 out of 10
It is incredibly gratifying to listen to a CD like Burn Blue Sky, and hear the musical talent that each member of the band possesses! The rhythm section of Beau McGranahan (drums) and Gabe McGranahan (bass) is incredible! Straight-ahead rhythms that might sound incredibly simple played alone are made far more intricate by the polyphonic bass lines! As a result, drum and bass lines weave together, forming a very thick wall of sound that supports the work of the guitarist and vocalist in the band really well!
With respect to the guitar work on this album, I must say that Jason Stone also proves that he is no slouch! His drop-tuned rhythm playing is very heavy-sounding, but it also has great mid-range growl that comes off in a very powerful and effective way! He is also a great soloist, and a musician with a great ear for harmony, able to weave his guitar lines in and out between the bass and drum work in a very adept manner! The overall effect is that he contributes to the wall of sound, decorating it in a full, rich and intricate way! I really like the sound that this band puts out! And, if that weren’t enough, additional keyboard parts (provided by Jeff Seelye) on several songs help to bring even more depth, mystery and quality to the overall sound of the band! When you hear the CD, you will realize that there isn’t any way that this band is going to be deterred from making great music!
Lest we forget, there is also a great vocalist involved with Burn Blue Sky! Todd Hough has a kind of eerie quality in his voice, similar to that of System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian. He delivers his vocals in a deadpan style, a bit off-kilter and a bit off-key at times, both effects that lend a mysterious air to the band’s music! He also growls in Cookie-Monster/Death Metal style very well, lending a feeling of power, strength and rage to the band’s music. Altogether, Burn Blue Sky presents music that is of very high quality, keeping fans of more melodic Metal on the bandwagon without pissing off the Death Metal guys, either! They are Everyman’s Metal band, and that’s an incredible feat to pull off!
Songwriting – 8.5 out of 10
In many ways, I can’t speak much to the lyrical quality of the songs, because it is difficult to keep up with Todd Hough and hear the words verbatim. However, I like the overall feel of the songs, and the overall themes come through quite effectively. A good example of this is the opening track, entitled (Us). It is a self-descriptive song about the attitude of the band, particularly in light of more conservative religious critics that they have evidently locked horns with. In no uncertain terms, they declare their feelings on the subject! Other tunes are similar, including (Dying City) and (What’s Real). I like their songs, and though I’d prefer a little more variety in the melodies of the songs, I feel like the band does an awesome job of playing meaningful Heavy music!
Packaging – 8 out of 10
Simplicity is the idea with Burn Blue Sky’s self-titled release. The packaging consists of a protective sleeve that has a cool photo on the cover, and song listings, production credits, and musical credits on the back. Not much else to comment upon! The sleeve does its job of holding the CD, and also gives you the basic info about the band and their music. No frills, but nothing that detracts from the quality of their music either!
Sound Quality/Professionalism – 9.5 out of 10
The money that wasn’t spent on the packaging evidently went into the production on the disc! This is a great-sounding CD, with plenty of tub-thumping bottom end and an overall excellent sound! I am very happy with the heavy, heavy sound of the music, as well as the clarity that the CD has! Nothing gets overly muddy or sloppy in the mix – everything sounds excellent. This is a first-rate CD by a great band!
Path I’ve Made
Overall Rating – 8.5 out of 10
I think the thing I like about Burn Blue Sky’s music is the heavy, heavy bottom end sound that they generate. Brothers Gabe and Beau McGranahan are an excellent rhythm section, and it’s their work that (no triteness intended) is the foundation of the group’s sound. Seen from a stylistic sense, I think I like their music because they are a good mix of old and new school Metal; they have the heaviness of a lot of dark Metal bands of today, with the rhythm and timing of bands from the 80’s and early 90’s. In particular, they remind me a lot of the band Faith No More, especially on the songs (Into Myself) and (What’s Real). Mainly, it’s the keyboard parts that make me feel that way (remember Epic?). In the end, the band banks on heavy riffs to carry the day, and in doing so, have invested wisely!
I really liked the 1st demo that Burn Blue Sky sent me (circa 2002), and I think their new one is even better! It’s more polished, more professional, and it builds on the successes of their past. If you are a Metal fan, you should definitely get yourself a copy of Burn Blue Sky! They are an incredible Midwest band that you will enjoy hearing over and over again! Heavy rockers will like this one, too, because it has a lot of interesting melodic elements that are common to bands from the modern Metal way of thinking! Whatever your tastes, I think you’ll dig their stuff! Check it out, and make sure you congratulate the guys on a job well done!