Album Review: Born Lion - 'Final Words'

6 July 2015 | 9:53 am | Staff Writer
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An energetic debut, with a vast array of ideas and sounds on display throughout.

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2015 is indeed looking like the self proclaimed year of the lion. Having just kicked off a national run of dates with Yellowcard and Mayday Parade, the timing couldn’t be sweeter for Born Lion to drop their debut record ‘Final Words’. Having already spawned the successful single ‘D is for Danger’, ‘Good Times Jimmy’ and the recent ‘Break the Curse’, ‘Final Words’ is a rhythmical punk and roll journey, which shows the band exploring every possible avenue within each song.

Kicking off with the familiar ‘Break the Curse’, Born Lion waste no time showcasing their expansive sound in full, with a rhythmically vexing verse giving way to an anthemic chorus of ‘woah’s’, before spiralling down into a crushing breakdown, and the distorted bass tones providing a wall of noise for the groove to sit upon. ‘Good Dogs Play Dead’ then changes direction immediately, tearing along at a breakneck pace. The punk side of Born Lion's sound is evident here, as on ‘Sucker For Punishment’, the latter boasting a thundering chorus reminiscent of Aussie counterparts Grenadiers. The track also allows both guitarists to showcase their unique mixture of harsh and clean vocals, with the chorus contrasting the harshness of the instrumentation with some icy cold falsetto backings.

The chaos of 'Final Words' sets them apart. ‘Suzie’ moves between garage punk, with its tense chugging and squealing guitars, and 80’s hair metal, with a chorus taking a leaf straight from ‘David Lee Roth’s guide to Hooks’. Despite the attention grabbing song lines and structures, the first half of ‘Final Words’ is an intense listen, with a huge array of sounds flying all over the place. Enter the tense yet calming acoustic cut ‘Violent Soul’. Perfectly placed in the eye of the rock and roll storm, the track slows the pace, yet posses enough grungy harmonies to keep its audience on edge. A great song that is well positioned on the record.

Despite all the promise shown at the start of the record, it is the back half of ‘Final Words’ which lets the release down. ‘Rest in Pieces' contains a great sludge drive, which resumes the cracking pace set by the album's opening. The bridge provides one of the highlights of the record, with a melting pot of chilling screams surrounding the listener, while the rhythm section keeps the song grounded with a relentless pulse. ‘Good Times Jimmy’ is also great fun, with a solid groove, a fun party chorus and a bucket full of attitude. However, it is on ‘None of the Above’ and ‘Too Cool to Party’ that the novelty begins to fade. Both tracks maintain the same musical motifs as the rest of the album, but they don’t possess the same enthusiasm and drive as ‘Sucker for Punishment’. Instead, they sit nicely, but without any of the urgency or rage which makes the first half of ‘Final Words’ so engaging.

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Despite these minor setbacks, Born Lion have produced a solid, honest debut, which captures both the frustrations and novelties of the Australian suburban lifestyle. ‘Final Words’ is a fun and upbeat record, with the relentless energy of a band ready to make their mark on the Australian music scene clearly heard.

'Final Words' is a solid release. What it lacks in dynamic and variety it makes up for in energy. It will be great to see these songs in a live context, and the way things are panning out for the band this year, no matter where you are in Australia, it seems the chance may present itself sooner than later.

1. Break the Curse

2. Good Dogs Play Dead

3. Sucker for Punishment

4. Suzie

5. D for Danger

6. Violent Soul

7. Rest In Pieces

8. Good Times Jimmy

9. None of the Above

10. Too Cool To Party

11. Weight of the World