by Thrin Vianale (@windedfl)
There is something I can only identify as pure anger that erupts from my brain while waiting for (late? lost? imaginary?) buses in the summer in Bushwick, sweating and squinting like it’s my full time job. In this non-unique frustration, I turned to Tallahassee based punk group Blazar’s latest offering, Reach Out, which provided me with a parallel auditory experience to the scorching harshness and duress of the summer heat. Blazar are a relatively new band with limited social media presence, but no strangers to the punk scene. Vocalist Jack Vermillion, whose versatile vocal style and writing harkens back slightly to that of David Yow of The Jesus Lizard, was once a member of another stalwart Tallahassee group Ex-Breathers. Blazar’s Nick Derella also shreds in Tallahassee based punk group Night Witch, whose album Who’s Next premiered with Post-Trash in 2018. Blazar’s Reach Out is dancy, noisy, fast-paced, and thrilling -- a record that grips you from the first chord until finally spitting you out at the last.
The opening track “Lost” has undisputedly addictive guitar parts and dynamics that almost beg you to dance until you collapse. The super squeezed guitars are almost fried sounding and give the tracks a classic punk vibe. The way the songs pivot in their time signatures from ultra-fast melodies and harsh yelling, to spaced out and percussion-driven parts really struck me on first listen in terms of the EP as a whole. The intricate way the songs are crafted is stunning and highlights the adept musicianship of the group’s members. “Alone/Boot” is the longest song on the record, and hooks you in its bass-driven introduction before plunging face-first into another tonally dynamic fever dream. Vermillion shifts from deep, looming vocals, to droney spoken words, to focused and poignant yelling on this track, complementing the swift tonal changes of the guitars and drums.
The third and shortest track “Reach Out” greets the listener with a hard-driving, consistent storm and briefly kicks into overdrive to a fast, thrashy melody before and its abrupt end. The control this band has in their writing and the form of their songs stands out in their amazingly quick transitions; you never know what turns each song will take and they won’t be what you think. “Madness for Madness,” as the name might suggest, opens with an anguished shriek in a haze of cymbals crashing and distorted guitars ringing out -- Vermillion’s voice almost scares me on this track. The unbridled rage that pours out of the song is oh-so perfect, I wanted it to whisk me away — executed with the group’s nimble control of rhythm and panic. Concluding with “Leash,” an ominous and strident guitar intro sinks its teeth into you before building up into a full speed ahead bullet train into hell, as feedback carries the EP into its end. Released via Invisible Audio, Reach Out is for you if you’re tired and pissed, and I do hope it will validate whatever your existential frustration is as it did mine.