9. Burnt Books – Burnt Books
January 22 on At A Loss Recordings
Columbia, South Carolina, USA
The first thing that stood out for me with Burnt Books, the debut full-length by these South Carolina hardcore metal-punks of the same name, was Zoe Lollis’ voice. Her weary banjo song, “Materialist Conspiracy Theorist”, maintains the offbeat feel of the overall album, and lets her clean voice shine, before “Abandoned” smashes in. The star of the show on Burnt Books is Lollis’ complete and utter vulnerability. She has personal scores to settle, and pain to work through, and the fragility on display here would be pitiful were it not so violent and genuine. Try listening to “Unforgiven” without squirming in delicious discomfort. The banjo reappears with another solo piece, “Liar”, a call-out of exhausted hope to an absent mother; “Stand up on your own two feet and / Tell the truth to my sister and me for once […] Please, mama, won’t you stick around for me.” From start to finish, Burnt Books swings between delicate, dwindling faith and seething rage. This album cuts deep and sounds unlike anything else out there. Check it out.