Album Review: Bridge Under Fire – “Why Wait?”

Bridge Under Fire play raspy, heartfelt post-hardcore, like Hot Water Music and Leatherface before them. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is– bands being influenced by Hot Water Music are nothing new, and as repetition has proven, even the most adept musicians struggle to create something of worth when simply aping an iconic sound, especially one as specific as the aforementioned. Why Wait? doesn’t play like an imitation though, it may not stray too far from its influences, but it ultimately does have its own voice, and from what I’ve heard it’s a good one.

On “Empty Calories and Male Curiosity” there’s a line that struck me as particularly indicative of Bridge Under Fire and what they have to offer: “My ears are ringing, my voice is giving out. Feeling something I haven’t felt in months. We’re loading up, the van is rolling out. I never thought I’d miss this place so much.” The legendary cliches of punk rock dedication roll out effortlessly, mixing enthusiasm with longing. Ringing ears and sore throats aren’t just a symbol of romanticized passion, it’s an admission of self sacrifice. Like an insatiable pagan god, punk rock is a force that requires, nay demands, bodily sacrifice– blood, sweat, and damaged hearing, all so the music can come alive. Bridge Under Fire don’t use the cliches as crutches though, and with every rasping shout they sound as if they’re working tirelessly to lend a renewed relevance to words so trite they’ve practically lost meaning.

Why Wait? is filled with emotion and played with conviction, and part of that conviction is due to the lead singers devout adherence to those rasping shouts, allowing Bridge Under Fire to stand apart from the pack in a genre that has increasingly bred-out its hardcore influences. That’s not to say Bridge Under Fire is tuneless though, those gravelly barks carry subtle melody, leaving you humming along to an apparition that you’re not sure you ever felt in the first place. And when combined with melodic backing woahs, Why Wait? feels positively catchy.

Instrumentally, Why Wait? has a focus on rhythm rather than melody. Guitar leads twist and turn for the sake of movement, not for hooks. The style is almost more tonal at points, such as the solo on “The Interns” which avoids flashiness in favor of cohesiveness. Acoustic guitar is present on “???,” a song filled with nostalgia and loss that never succumbs to singer-songwriter theatrics, slowing things down but maintaining intensity– the change in instrumentation making the vocalist’s screams feel suitably hollow, broken, and desperate.

Why Wait? is a great release from the Syracuse based Bridge Under Fire, and while my more cynical side was prepared to dismiss it as another trend perpetuating itself ad nauseum, it’s hard to ignore music as good as this. Bridge Under Fire write great songs that never feel forced, and they do it with a sound reinvigorated by passion and enthusiasm. Why Wait? is a strong album that transcends its obvious comparisons and establishes Bridge Under Fire as a band of musicians worthy of attention.

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