Having already released the ‘Life Behind Boundaries’ EP in 2007 and ‘Breath of Loss’ full length in 2010, Zweisel’s Bridges Left Burning had already begun to make a mark on the German hardcore punk scene. The first thing that’s notable about their third release ‘Disappointment, Disapproval, Disbelief’ – released by German DIY label Down The Drain Records – is its professional sound; one that’s almost tailor made for the cult American label Victory Records. The band is much stronger than before, both musically and lyrically, and this EP features some very hard edges and even harder messages.
From the opening bars of ‘Creationists Are Idiots, As All I Can See Is Stupid Design (the handrail on our way to idiocracy)’, the band power head on into a world of fiercely political messages backed by sledgehammer riffs, somewhere between hardcore punk and metalcore. Following a chunky opening, Christian Schwarz’s drums kick in and have a fantastic sound bringing lots of bottom end. Matthias Peschl’s vocals are harsh, adopting a raspy Gallows or Give Up The Ghost approach as opposed to Sick of it All style hardcore shouting (though the band resort to this on occasion). This is a vast improvement on his under-produced metallic growl on parts of the band’s earlier releases. There are moments where metal influences creep in via a musical motif which utilises a twin guitar sound, but there’s no mistaking the band’s punk roots, especially once those guitars are overlaid by a chorus of voices at the track’s end.
‘You’re The Change’ ups the pace, and with that comes more of a punky ethic; there are slight influences from post-‘Today’s Empires’ Propagandhi and Strike Anywhere, while the bulk of the number is still being driven by heaviness. The lead vocal is backed by gang vocals, while the guitars bring rhythm based riffs which have a very generic quality. Lyrically, once again, it shows Bridges Left Burning as a very politically charged band (“it’s time to make a stand, let’s turn these common wrongs to ethically acceptable rights. There are alternatives. Let’s cut the blinds! We must be the change we wish to see.”) ‘Slaughterhouse of Glass’ follows suit but has a slow mid section, bringing in a slight chuggy metal influence, before the twin lead guitars build up tension before returning to straight-up hardcore punkiness. ‘Horus of Disapproval (Adding God To Misery)’ bring nothing greatly different to the table musically (though a brief guitar solo makes an appearance), but lyrically previous messages of fighting for change make way for an anti-religious stance which, in places, is far more direct than those suggested on the opening track.
‘Call It Treason If You Will’ presents the band in best form though, featuring some great bass work from Benedikt Hain whose playing has a thunderous live sound on occasion. Once again, the content is extremely angry with anti-war and anti-propaganda themes (“And there we are, calling to arms again, fighting a war for no reason but one: The hegemony of few. A nation trapped in self-delusion, unwilling to change. Patriotic you follow blind, shun to think for yourself. You’re governed by an elitist group, depredating, raping, killing, searching for idiots like you, who do not demand answers nor doubt.”) Lyrically it’s very harsh…often making Bad Religion’s punk dissertations sound like whimsy. As before, the drum work is extremely tight, while the twin guitar attack of Daniel Rothkopf and Andreas Quandt provide riffs fusing hardcore punk and metal influences with fantastic results.
With a much better production than on their previous releases, Bridges Left Burning have an unshakable sound, with the best parts of ‘Disappointment, Disapproval, Disbelief’ recalling the work of the great 90s hardcore punk bands like Strife. In all, it’s a great EP, one worthy of a release on a bigger label.
[All proceeds from the sale of the EP will be donated to PETA, with it being offered on a “pay what you want” basis; click on the widget below].