Burnt by the Sun - _The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good_
(Relapse Records, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (10 out of 10)
Right off the bat, I'd like to make it clear that I love the New Jersey-based collective known as Burnt by the Sun. Their superb 2002 effort, _Soundtrack to a Personal Revolution_ was by and large one of the most strikingly effective and aggressive records I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, and as such, I think it would be safe for me to say that my expectations for its successor were perhaps higher than for the casual listener. Where they could, like so many other acts, very easily have fallen prey to the dreaded sophomore album syndrome, however, Burnt by the Sun have managed to not only top themselves this time round, but to deliver a follow-up that makes their earlier work sound damn near primitive by comparison.

The first aspect of _The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good_ to grab one's attention is the impeccable manner in which the band have introduced new elements to their sound -- melody, thicker and catchier grooves to name a few -- while still retaining their trademark vehemence. Indeed, opener "Washington Tube Steak", may be slightly more tuneful than most of what the band offered previously, but it could easily go toe to toe with anything on _Soundtrack..._ for sheer undiluted rage alone. Ultimately what Burnt by the Sun's progression has achieved more than anything is to provide their music with an added dimension of depth, which makes their music all the more compelling and effective.

Delving once again into political and current global topics, the band's music provides not only a perfect soundtrack for the intelligent and ambiguous fashion in which they treat their subject matter, but also vividly captures the zeitgeist. The distinctly Middle-Eastern influence of "Revelation 101" stands out as perhaps the best example of the tangible atmosphere this album projects, whilst the almost Morbid Angel-like chug of "2012" shows off Mike Olender's voice at its seething and devastating best. Elsewhere, the band's new-found melodic sensibilities are made evident on "Spinner Dunn" and the staggering "Forlani".

Not since Strapping Young Lad's 1997 _City_ opus have I been this thoroughly blown away by an album. I could most certainly fill many more paragraphs touting its praise, but for the time being I shall summarise it as a consummate masterclass in intelligent brutality and easily my favourite album of 2003 so far.

Contact: http://www.burntbythesun.com

(article published 20/10/2003)


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