(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Christian Hardcore / Punk Rock band The Blamed had its U.S. roots planted between two states, Illinois and California when the band basically fired up in 1994 at the hands of its founder, the Cali-based Bryan Gray. From there, the band would release a string of volatile, posi-core albums that showcased their ever-evolving sound before disbanding less than a decade later.
Introspective, aggressive and laden with truths both personal and perceived, The Blamed arrived on to the scene with their 1994 full-length debut for Tooth & Nail Records, “21“. The album was a riveting assault of high-intensity music that melded punk, alternative, hardcore, rock, metal, pop, ska and more into one cohesive, wide-ranging outing.
Alongside band founder Bryan Gray (Vocals, Guitar) as far as the band itself goes were bassist Eric Churchill, drummer Jim Chaffin (Deliverance) and guitarist Jake Landrau. There was also a revolving door of guests that included, just to name a few, Darren “Klank” Diolosa (Circle Of Dust, Klank), Sonny Sandoval (P.O.D.), Jeff Bellew (The Crucified, Stavesacre) and Tooth & Nail, BEC Recordings founder / president, Branden Ebel. What 21 presented as a whole was something that served as the recorded starting point of an act that continually won over fans everywhere.
As such, despite its being a fantastic introduction to The Blamed, it would not compare to the explosive ferocity that the band’s 1995 follow-up, “Frail“, would unleash. Returning for this outing were Gray and Chaffin, now joined by bassist Gary Ottosi and vocalist Jeremy Moffett, while the record itself finds The Blamed following a much heavier, more metallic direction. The music, the vocals, the attitude…all of it was just light years beyond the debut album’s somewhat “tameness” by comparison.
The growing awareness and support for The Blamed was huge at this time period yet when The Blamed resurfaced in 1996, it was with an almost entirely new band (again) beside Bryan Gray, as well as a new record label, Grrr Records. Joining Bryan on the band’s scathing third album, “…Again“, was guitarist/vocalist Jeff Locke, bassist John Hansen and returning drummer Jim Chaffin.
For me personally, this is a milestone album release from The Blamed and the one where I myself originally discovered the band. Despite the mostly new crew and new home label, …Again once again ratcheted up the ferocious angst of the band into the red. The record is a senses-assaulting barrage of lightning guitars, dizzying drums and throat-shredding vocals.
The Blamed, utilizing varying musicians at times, would continue to release albums on Grrr Records during this period. In fact, the band served up three more offerings via the label, they were: 1999’s “Forever“, 2000’s “Germany” EP and 2001’s “Isolated Incident” (all streaming below). It seemed as if each new release pretty much escalated the band’s tumultuous contents under pressure. Every outing always seemed to benefit from casts of varied contributors, something that more than likely helped with the continually growing sound of The Blamed.
Each release provides a step by step indulgence of increasingly heavier and more volatile music from The Blamed. Unrelenting hardcore-driven heavy metal unhinged and off the chain, containing damning lyrical indictments against hypocrisy and self-deception in general, plus a whole hell of a lot more. It is all here and it is all combustible within each and every second of The Blamed‘s incessant aural assault.
Isolated Incident would be The Blamed‘s last record for Grrr but it, and it’s predecessor, the “Germany” EP, would mark a new trend for The Blamed – recording more than one release with the same line up in place – as they did for both of those records. Those pair of releases featured main man Bryan Gray of course, accompanied by vocalist / guitarist Matt Switaj and the sibling rhythm section duo of Christopher Witala (bass) and Trevor Witala (drums).
This quartet would remain in place, unbelievably, for a third studio recording also, one marking The Blamed‘s return to Tooth & Nail Records, 2002’s “Give Us Barrabas“. This album seemed to display somewhat of a return to their roots for The Blamed as it is noticeably a lot less metallic in nature. The overall sound of this effort seems to throwback to the group’s earlier, more punk-oriented styling and attitude. But never ones to color within the lines so to speak, there are elements of jazz, fusion, noise-core and other experimental nuances throughout the album. It would also be the final studio outing from The Blamed as the band officially broke-up in 2003, just a little shy of what would have been their tenth anniversary in 2004.
Yet, as is the case with many killer, influential and beloved bands, The Blamed would remain neither gone nor forgotten thankfully. They reunited for a performance at 2016’s Audio Feed Festival and it apparently re-ignited those long smoldering hardcore sparks and fanned them into a full-on inferno of aggro rage yet again.
Yes, The Blamed are active NOW, played an acoustic set at 2017’s Audio Feed and, for the best news of all, are working on a new The Blamed album as we speak. It is expected for a release sometime in 2018 so that means this story does not end here, it just goes on hold for now until we have further news and information about The Blamed to bring you.
Keep up on both under your own power by visiting The Blamed’s Facebook page here.