The Blinders - Columbia
First impressions on this one...FUCKING FEROCIOUS! A few songs in and you might feel yourself on your feet, taken over by the primal urge that pours out of this record. But try and listen to the whole thing and you will be knocked to the floor by the sheer force of it all. The previously released tracks (only 3, none of this only releasing 4 or 5 new songs business!) have set out the stalls beautifully for this album and they encapsulate the primitive power that the three-piece convey. The album opener ‘Gotta Get Through’ is as raw as they get. With the few repetitive chanting and the primal panting ending in a climatic howl there is no chance of being a passive listener with this one. ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’ and ‘Brave New World’ also capture this intense atmosphere and provide a sound perfect for the live experience.
However, these singles merely provide the spikes in this animalistic listening experience. The album is one that needs to be heard as a whole. It is not a collection of disconnected songs but a journey through a dystopian landscape named 'Columbia'. A world stripped of its freedom and polluted with oppression. It has clear links to the modern world however and has been described by the band as “an alternate world informed by reality”. Each song, although different, carries a common thread linking the record together. This is most strongly felt on the neighbouring tracks ‘Et Tu’ and ‘Brutus’ which reference the supposed last words of Julius Caesar featured in Shakespeare’s play and translate as “Even you, Brutus?”. The phrase represents the betrayal of a friend and this feeling is transmitted unconventionally by these two songs, the first just two minutes long, the second over 7 minutes! There are about 5 different styles throughout this 9 minute mind-bending affair and each one sends your head spinning just that little bit more, definitely one of the most complex yet impressive songs we have ever reviewed. Yet, this could be said for the whole album.
The 'Columbia' concept creates an atmosphere unlike any other. The apocalyptic preaching...the swell of the ominous guitar tones... and that bass drum! It acts like a pulse throughout the entire record and keeps the voice of The Blinders marching on. The importance of front-man Thomas Haywood can’t be understated either. He delivers his vocals with an angsty punch channeling the heart of the band. His voice somehow manages to capture the energy, not just of his own passion, but of the instrumentals as well, and thrust it down the mic. The album concludes with a slower track, as is tradition, but ‘Orbit (Salmon Of Alaska)’ is no album filler, it is exactly how an album ender should be executed. Starting with just Thomas Haywood and a piano, it creates a bundle of post-apocalyptic imagery that provides the immersive indulgence you crave from an album. With lyrics that could have come from ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ you can just imagine Haywood sat singing in the centre of a crumbling city, like a scene from ‘1984’ (who’s protagonist Winston Smith is mentioned in another of their tracks ‘The Ballad Of Winston Smith’. )
This increasingly rare concept album, coupled with their constant references to history and literature display an artistic intelligence perhaps uncommonly associated with such a heavy-hitting sound. Alongside the likes of ‘Cabbage’ and ‘IDLES’ they are leading the way in creating a new brand of socially aware Punk. With the release of 'Columbia', The Blinders are dragging us into a dystopian future where Punk-Rock rules again.
ORDER YOUR COPY OF COLUMBIA HERE.
The Blinders also head out on their UK tour starting on the 15th of October, grab your tickets here.