Music Reviews
Fall of the Plastic Empire

Burning Brides Fall of the Plastic Empire

(V2) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Originally recorded in the spring of 2000, the UK release of Burning Brides' debut LP seems criminally overdue. With US tours alongside a variety of big name acts - including Queens of The Stone Age, The White Stripes, and most recently, Audioslave - under their belts, it just baffles me as to why the band's expanding UK fanbase has had to wait so long for Fall of the Plastic Empire. But then I've never really grasped the finer points of record industry politics...

Now if you've never heard the Brides before I'm sure you're struggling to formulate an idea as to what they sound like; after all, it's not every day you encounter a band who've shared a bill with Jack White and Chris Cornell is it? In some twisted way however, I guess the Burning Brides touring résumé does shed some light on their sound and influences; relentless Stooges-esque riffs are the common thread throughout Fall of the Plastic Empire, but beyond these there are hints that Burning Brides aren't quite your typical Kerrang! endorsed rockers.

From what I can tell, many critics seem content to lump the Philadelphia-based trio in with the current crop of garage rock revivalists, something I do not agree with. No disrespect to the garage rock crowd, but on record at least, Burning Brides have a few more strings to their bow. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is the definite stoner element present throughout this album. Showcased on tracks like Plastic Empire, At the Levity Ball and Elevator, the band's murky instrumental breaks and clever time signature shifts prove that the Brides have more in the way of musical nous than many of their heavy rock contemporaries.

Infuriatingly though, Fall of the Plastic Empire also highlights a number of flaws in Burning Brides' repertoire. Whereas some promising tunes are tarnished by dumbed down metal lyrics (see Plank of Fire with its questionable "non-stop masturbation" line), others just never seem to get going. Well, maybe on a superficial level they do - after all, the album's pace is utterly relentless - but on closer inspection, the worrying lack of consistency in the band's songwriting is clear for all to see. And for a band that have proved - on the very same album nonetheless - that they have the capabilities to combine raucous heavy rock riffing with both musical and lyrical intelligence, this comes as a major disappointment.

In short, around half of Fall of the Plastic Empire succeeds in matching energetic, radio-friendly tunes with musical ingenuity and lyrical bite - a recipe for success if I ever heard one. But it's the other half - the patchier, less intelligent Burning Brides - which I find even more interesting. Why? Because it's these moments of compromise that stand as a truly formidable obstacle between this fiery trio and genuine acclaim.