Burn – Do or Die

3 out of 5

Label: Deathwish

Produced by: Kurt Ballou

Hardcore punkers Burn – and then through vocalist Chaka Malik’s funkier, rockier-output under Orange 9mm – excelled when employing a couple of main sound tenets: speed, and fury. With Chaka’s meaty speak-shout vocal style, and powerful – if straight-forward – fight-for-your-right style lyrics, when the group was matched with producers who could properly serve all these powerful elements, it was grabbing stuff.

And the years – about 15, since their last release – have not changed that so much. They have a producer who’s great at bringing out those gutsy riffs – Kurt Ballou – who’s especially well-suited to the new additions to the rhythm section who lean in to that speed aspect of things. This means that Do Or Die has some absolutely killer tracks – such as the title track – that truly suggest Burn not only hasn’t lost a beat, but may have gained some as well. However, as good as Ballou is at capturing mass noise, he’s at a bit of a loss when riffs turn more alternative-rock-y and Chaka aims for a bit more range, showing some age on the vocalist’s pipes, and leaving the group sounding like they’re aiming for some more epic rockers that they can’t quite achieve.

Chaka’s lyrics are as direct as always, perhaps a bit more focused on rallying against the 1%, but powerful enough to incite chanting along at a show. When Do Or Die is prioritizing volume and speed – which is often enough – it’s pretty instantly pleasing for fans of the band, or Orange 9mm. When it steps off of this path, though, it loses some steam, and the music starts to blend together.