Veritas Est Rock: The Blood Brothers

Paul Karner

Amidst the ever-fertile hardcore scene, which seems to churn out bands faster than they can come up with new brutal band names, The Blood Brothers have managed to rise up from the clutter and gain some real notoriety for themselves.
As hardcore and punk music becomes increasingly dominated by fashion and mass-moving trends, it is not surprising that a band with a forward-looking sense of songwriting would gain so much attention.
Thursday, Nov. 2 The Blood Brothers played a raucous set at Milwaukee’s Rave during their current tour with …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. The unmistakable sound of vocalists Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie wrenching over the spastic drums and brutal guitars was infectious to say the least.
Front man Johnny Whitney stole much of the show with his startlingly flamboyant onstage presence. The band’s natural affinity for working catchy hooks into their flailing song structures shined through as the audience occasionally erupted with fists and screams along with the band.
Whitney’s tormenting falsetto has been a staple of the band’s recognizable sound since their early recordings, but has taken a more musical role in the bands most recent albums. His quasi-melodic hooks like those in “Love rhymes with hideous car wreck” and the new song “Laser Life,” would break through the chaos on stage and almost gave the set a sense of drama amidst the grating barrage of noise coming from the stage.
The band’s new album “Young Machetes” was recently released by Second Nature Recordings and shows a band with their minds set on taking their punk roots to new artistic heights. There are a number of surprises on the album that might catch earlier fans off guard, yet The Blood Brothers are not necessarily reinventing themselves.
The opening track, “Set Fire to the Face on Fire,” served as a rousing opener at the Rave and harkens back to the spastic-but-catchy songs on the album “Crimes” (2005, Second Nature).
However, the serene drones on “Street Wars/Exotic Foxholes” or the piano/vocal breakdown in “Camouflage, Camouflage” that seems to be more reminiscent of Tori Amos than anything punk rock both are startling breaks in the album’s intensity.
There is a noticeable difference in the songs overall as well. Even the more convulsive heavier moments have a keener sense of purpose than previous albums, which occasionally seemed to deteriorate into callous pounding and grinding. The macabre feel to a lot of the rhythms and the prominence of Whitney’s jangly keyboard parts add a depth to the brutality of it all. All in all, The Blood Brothers have proved that they are their own band with their own music and fortunately for them, it’s true.