Bridges to Burn

I was anxious to check out Bridges to Burn, the new 16 album and the first since 2003’s Zoloft Smile, which was not only a top 10 selection for me from that year, but also remains one of my all-time favorites. There is just something about the combination of harsh, riff-based groove, the easily remembered choruses, and Cris Jerue’s socially lacerating and self-loathing lyrics. Some of those lyrics remain in my head to this day (lines from the title track, “Damone,” and “Grip of Delusion” in particular). The musical impact of 16 is instantaneous and dominant. Specifically, the band occupies a musical space occupied by the likes of early HELMET, UNSANE, and to a limited degree, CROWBAR – drop tuned, hard as nails and in your face, both lyrically and musically. Get the idea?

So the band made a logical jump from At a Loss to Relapse and the question that burned in my brain was, “Can Bridges to Burn even come close to measuring up to Zoloft Smile?” The answer is a resounding “yes!” All the ingredients that made Zoloft Smile a mind fucker and a groin kicker are present on Bridges to Burn, just louder, more abrasive, and sometimes quicker paced.

As alluded to above, 16 has a knack for writing steel-belted grooves and lyrics that stick to the ribs because of Chris Jerue’s frighteningly insightful views into the darkest recesses of the human mind. The album’s very first track, “Throw in the Towel,” is classic 16 from top to bottom. It punches hard with a mid-paced, grinding groove that gives way to an up-tempo burst on the chorus. Jason Corley’s (who didn’t play on Zoloft Smile) drumming is tight, tough and fundamentally sound without ever detracting from the song’s muscular arrangement, just like it is on every track. It is also a song that boasts something rarely heard on a 16 song – a guitar solo that in this case explodes with the tempo surge. With lyrics like “My every move is incomplete / I’m suffering another defeat” it is clear Jerue wasn’t singing from the standpoint of an eternal optimist. Need more proof? How about “Quit! Throw in the towel / wait for the sequel”.

I’ll spare you the nauseating 12-track analysis, but “Throw in the Towel” is not the only highlight. “Skin & Bones” on which Jerue admits “I care less and less about my progress” and “Man Interrupted” on which he sings “As I sharpen the blade now / I think of you” are right there too. The former is one of the disc’s strongest movers with a sludgy southern swagger that accompanies Jerue’s neck-bulging, face reddening shouts and screams. “Monday Bloody Monday” is demonstrative of Jerue lyrics that express thoughts that most people keep hidden and a dangerous few act out in ways that don’t bode well for co-workers, friends, spouses, or authority figures. Case in point: “Monday bloody Monday / holes in the wall / and dents in the fridge / I’m ending us all / off this bridge.”

I could go on and on, but I’ll cease the fan-boy gushing. Bridges to Burn is one belligerent son of a bitch and a great way to purge some personal demons. It is also guaranteed to make my year-end Top 10 list.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
March 5th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Tastyyyyyyyyyyyyyy sludgeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

    Excellent record. Obscura, Blut Aus Nord and Samael have company in my year-end list.

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