If this is indeed, as the title of the Balkun Brothers’ scorched earth, guitar and drum intensive new album implies, the end of the world, there’s no better, darkly fun or bitingly incisive way to go out than with a rip-roaring, kinda depressing but insanely cathartic soundtrack by the well-traveled Connecticut based power duo of Steve (guitar, vocals, thumb-bone bass) and Nick “The Hammer” Balkin (drums, vocals).
Perfectly embodying the siblings’ trademark rebel yelling and the blister boom approach that’s made them a sensation from coast to coast – including early 2020 pre-pandemic gigs at The Whiskey and Viper Room in L.A. – Here Comes the End of the World, produced and recorded on analog tape by Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, Iggy Pop), is hands down the most hard-hitting,
explosive/propulsive and above all, ruthlessly honest album to meet our collective anxiety ridden dystopian moment of 2020.
It’s as if the Balkun Brothers came back from that tour, only to find themselves – like millions of other musicians – locked down, and decided to blaze their way out of quarantine (figuratively, if not literally) with pure fast paced, rhythmically eclectic firepower. After an ominous, mystical beginning which approximates an emergency siren, they punk it out on the incendiary title track with ultra-speedy grooves and licks as they bemoan the reality “beyond our control.” For a song about impending certain death – which COVID-19 sometimes feels like, figuratively if not literally, for millions – it’s a wild, buoyant ride.
Elsewhere, they chug heavily into psychedelic rock territory declaring (as hookily as possible, repeating the word several times with each chorus) that they’ve been “Traumatized,” and they face their “Death (By) Bear” with anthem-like speed metal defiance that hopefuly scared the big animal shitless when they start screaming. The Balkun Brothers’ aren’t all chaotic anger, though. Some songs, they only share it half the time.
The grungy, slow burning “Caesar on the Steps” is Nirvana-esque, starting as more of a brooding meditation before exploding with Steve’s soaring guitar rage. They also have a blast intriguing us with percussive intensity and dynamic highs and lows as we’re left to figure out whatever the hell “Gravspresso” means. And for those who don’t need vocals to channel their anger at present circumstances, the siblings off the instrumental closer “Tommy Gun Shuffle” as a blazing showcase for the guitar/drum synergy they’ve been sharing with their audiences forever – and will hopefully be again.
Here Comes the End of the World was recorded at Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago and mastered by Bill Skibbe (Jack White, The Black Keys, the Raconteurs).