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by Joseph Brewer at 07 April 2020, 9:41 PM

Behold! Justin Benlolo, the creative force behind hard rock outfit BRKN LOVE. Out of Ontario, Canada, Benlolo has been driven over the last few years to keep alive the spirit of rock and deliver an album worthy of sharing the mantle with some of music history’s best. Without seeing the young singer/songwriter it would be easy to lump him into the growing field of LED ZEPPELIN clones (IE: GRETA VAN FLEET). While on one hand, he fits that mold quite adequately, his youthful vigor and swag cannot be overlooked. The self-titled debut album for his band “BRKN LOVE” is a hard rock banger of an album with an astonishing number of hooks and head bangin’ riffs.

“BRKN LOVE” has a very strong first half. Not that the back half of the album is bad. On the contrary, there are still many songs worth listening to once you get into the album. I’m the type of listener that navigates to the album, hits play, and starts from the beginning every time. Each of the first few tracks delivers a scratchy, guitar fueled, amped up rockin’ tune. “I Can’t Lie” starts off honey sweet, with a moving drum beat that carries along the basic rhythmic guitar line. Benlolo combines his voice with some retro synth and then pairs that with his guitar to create a sound that you can’t shake. “I See Red” has a similar start to the song, but really cranks up the attitude and muscle in the chorus. Benlolo delivers a killer croon worthy of any blues rock front man.

Shot Down” is the track that takes this album from a decent listen to a must listen. It delivers one of the heaviest riffs found on the album, a thick, chromatic synchronized guitar/bass attack that is generously used throughout the track. The chorus slides and pops, Benlolo doing double duty with his rough voice leaning and emphasizing words, matched by his heavy guitar. One complaint for me though. One of the lyrics clearly calls out a “direwolf,” presumably to play off the badass reputation of the fictional animal from Game of Thrones. To me, it falls flat and induces a cringe on repeated listens. If you have a chance, check out the video for this song. A simple affair, the video centers on the members of the band hopping and rockin’ around a darkened warehouse room, playing the song with hair flying and heads banging.

The next two tracks round out what I would consider to be the strong first half of the album. “Flies in the Honey” is one of the songs that sticks out from a lyric and song writing perspective. Taking on the subject of substance abuse, BRKN LOVE doesn't necessarily reinvent the wheel musically, but still weaves together an addicting sound that relays the many temptations found in the world. “Papercuts” starts off a bit more upbeat than the other songs. It dances on that line between poppy and heavy. The imagery of the opening lyrics, “I got these papercuts on my heart/Try to stitch 'em up but it's not enough,” is vivid and provides a dark contrast to the brighter nature of the song.

BRKN LOVE’s self-titled debut is a great addition to the hard rock world. Although I just highlighted a few tracks here, the rest of the album delivers just as many chorus hooks and heavy riffs. Benlolo orchestrates a sound that has the classic nature of LED ZEPPELIN, the more modern attitude of Lenny Kravitz, with a touch of a band like WOLFMOTHER that excels in their simplicity. More than anything, this is the kind of band that I would want to see live, cramped in a small bar filled with other fans, as I know that energy will be rockin’ and infectious.

Favorite Songs: “I See Red,” “Shot Down,” “Flies in the Honey

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. I Can’t Lie
2. I See Red
3. Shot Down
4. Flies In The Honey
5. Papercuts
6. Seventeen
7. Toxic Twin
8. Complicated
9. Oxygen
10. Don’t Panic
11. In Your Hands
Justin Benlolo – Vocals/Guitar
Brian Weaver – Bass
Dylan Wood – Drums
Record Label: Spinefarm Records


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