Album Review: Goddamnit – “How to Take the Burn”

On paper, Goddamnit’s debut album, How to Take the Burn, sounds goddamn perfect. Taking influences from Jawbreaker, Quicksand, and Lifetime, while also (presumably) taking their band name from Alkaline Trio? Sign me up! However, in practice, it’s not quite as perfect. It’s a good debut album, but it doesn’t come without its faults, as minimal as they may be.

If the band’s listed influences haven’t already tipped you off, there’s lots of scratchy shouting, and explosive guitars going on in these songs. This isn’t a bad thing: there’s a reason why so many people responded positively to Lifetime and Jawbreaker in the 90’s and undoubtedly people will respond positively to Goddamnnit doing it now in 2014. And between songs like “Quiet Distractions”, “We Play Craps”, “It’s Over Now” and the title track, How to Take the Burn has a lot to offer to fans of post-hardcore’s heyday.
Even with all of these great things going on throughout How to Take the Burn, something still feels off. The album isn’t even that long (it clocks in at approximately 38 minutes), but it feels like it drags on, especially during its second half. The sequencing might be partially to blame here: putting one acoustic song directly in the middle of the album and a second acoustic jam as the album closer does disrupt the flow, giving off the feel of two separate EPs being thrown together as opposed to one unified body of work. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a bit distracting.

In spite of these complaints, How to Take the Burn is still worth a listen. Even Jawbreaker, Lifetime, and Alkaline Trio all released debut albums that showed lots of strong promise but ultimately the parts were greater than their sum, and the band’s best works were still ahead of them (I suppose that’s debatable in Alkaline Trio’s case but that’s besides the point). There’s a lot about How to Take the Burn that sounds good, and all the right pieces are definitely there, they just don’t all come together as cohesively. At least not this time around: with a little tweaking, Goddamnit could very well be on their way to releasing their own landmark album to be held in high regard by punk rockers twenty years from now.

3.5 / 5 Stars

RIYL: Lifetime, Jawbreaker, Alkaline Trio

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