01. White Flag
05. Cold Metal/Cold Machine
07. Holy Ghost
2009 Init Records
It's been a full five years since The Blinding Light last put some riffs to tape. Blame a three year hiatus for getting in the way, but with Junebug as evidence, these five dudes are still more than capable of churning out some impressively punishing metallic hardcore. Admittedly, I tend to embrace this type of stuff, but with The Blinding Lights' stellar execution of the genre staples -- thick riffs, pummeling drumming, and absolutely vicious vocals -- I doubt that I'll be alone on this one.
Junebug shows that not much has changed in the way of the band's list of influences; Converge's chaos, mid-era Entombed's riffs, and the pounding nature of '90s hardcore all fight for the spotlight. But it's The Blinding Light's balance between the three and the perfectly gritty delivery that truly stand out here. It's hard not to get excited about the Wolverine Blues-type riff in "Whiteout" or the effortless transition from blasting mayhem to big grooves in "Crippler."
On the whole, however, their songwriting has taken a step in the direction of more thoroughly developed (though not quite "epic") compositions. Part of this can be attributed to a few well-placed clean singing sections that aid in dynamics. "Whiteout," "Blvd," and "Holy Ghost," and "Chainsmoker" all tap into this trick, and benefit tremendously. And part of this developed feel can be traced to the eight minute closing title track. It's quite a contrast to the blistering shotgun blast of the opener, "White Flag," but it possesses a few Jane Doe-esque touches that once resonated so deeply with my teenage self. It is one part good songwriting and one part nostalgia; I'm into it.
There's definitely a lot of praise in store for this record. Even after a significant break, The Blinding Light continues to nail a lot of the staples that made late '90s metallic hardcore so great, and Junebug has a few new touches to successfully differentiate itself from the band's earlier recordings. The only thing holding this album back is the knowledge that this frenzied metallic hardcore blend has been done many times over. And while I certainly have a huge spot in my record collection for the style, I can also acknowledge that as good as this is, it's not quite mind-blowing. Nevertheless, these guys do what they do extremely well, and their return is definitely welcomed.
Bottom Line: If you dig that late '90s sound that is equal parts metal, hardcore, and general chaos, then The Blinding Light's Junebug is right up your alley. Fans of the band from five years ago will notice a few touches that give the tracks a more developed, flowing feels, all without sacrificing their intense gritty approach. It won't go down in history, but this is a good record regardless.