Released: 2008, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
I’ve racked my brain and I honestly cannot think of a CD that has polarized my opinion so much as the sophomore release from Blessed By A Broken Heart, PEDAL TO THE METAL. On one hand, the eighties gimmick this Montreal-based group is pushing is hokey and over-the-top but undeniably fun and irresistibly catchy. On the other hand, BBABH is a Christian metalcore group and half of the songs on PEDAL TO THE METAL are among the most god-awful I have heard in the genre. It’s like the band has a collective split personality. Think Atreyu-meets-Poison and you’re close to what PEDAL TO THE METAL has to offer. That statement alone will cause mass peristaltic distress in a lot of people and it is pretty hard not to be turned off by the forced irony of these young bucks trying to capture the essence of pop/glam metal from twenty years ago (press photos make these guys look like a cross between Metal Skool and Twisted Sister) by throwing guitar solos by “Shred Sean” (puhleeze!!!) and Depeche Mode-style keyboards over top of sugary-sweet choruses. But Blessed By A Broken Heart could also find success as a guilty pleasure. I can’t imagine anyone tossing their copies of SLIPPERY WHEN WET and LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN into the fire to make room for PEDAL TO THE METAL but it certainly does have its moments and could appeal to the younger set looking for something with a contemporary twist on the classics.
When Blessed By A Broken Heart debuted in 2004 with ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR, the generic metalcore they flaunted was as faceless and soulless as the rest of the pack. This radical image and sound reinvention for PEDAL TO THE METAL certainly makes the cynic in me sit up and take notice but the band must also be credited for ditching the metalcore game for something, well, not original, but certainly different than what the rest of its peers are doing. Is Blessed By A Broken Heart a bunch of scenesters poking fun at the eighties on the anthemic “Move Your Body” and “She’s Dangerous” or do they have a justified fondness for the decade’s overt clichés? The jury remains out on that issue but they certainly do capture the sound and feel of the music of bands like Poison, Pretty Boy Floyd and Britny Fox. The songs are unapologetically catchy, pop-based bubblegum metal wrapped up in a slickly-produced package. “She Wolf” motors along with some ripping guitar licks and bouncy keyboards that lead to an irresistible chorus. “To Be Young,” a song that begs to be cranked while cruising down the highway, could easily be an outtake from Bon Jovi’s SLIPPERY WHEN WET album with a chorus so catchy it hurts. “Doing It” stumbles a bit with awkward New Wave-styled keyboards that make it sound like something from a bad eighties movie soundtrack, but again, the band nails that time and place to a tee.
It is the remnants of the band’s original metalcore sound that really makes PEDAL TO THE METAL a tough pill to swallow. “Show Me What You Got,” “Blood On Your Hands” and the Atreyu-like “Carry On” are positively wretched slabs of paint-by-numbers metalcore that any nameless, faceless band currently polluting the scene could have slapped together in a weekend. It seems odd that a band that obviously has as much fun with their metal as Blessed By A Broken Heart does in places sinks into the murk of the metalcore cesspool in others. Another band immediately comes to mind—At All Cost—whose divergent sound (and horrifying vocals) ultimately led to their demise, as it was just too much to take in and isolated listeners rather than embracing them. Blessed By A Broken Heart would do well to keep the fate of their former labelmates in mind.
Maybe it’s because I’m a child of the eighties reared on the Headbanger’s Ball that ruled MTV but when Blessed By A Broken Heart works their gimmick, I’m sold. Unfortunately, that is only half of the menu here and the other half stinks up the joint. Maybe a full album touting the greatness of eighties metal would be too much, so the metalcore side of things keeps things grounded on PEDAL TO THE METAL? Who knows, but this album seems like one that will get a few of the catchier songs downloaded off of iTunes and rest will be fodder that should have been left for dead. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, be warned because only the most patient metal fan will be able to appreciate the whole package.
KILLER KUTS: “She Wolf,” “Move Your Body,” “She’s Dangerous,” “To Be Young”