Finch - What It Is To Burn X (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


What It Is To Burn X (2014)

Tragic Hero

What It Is To Burn was one of my high-school records that would rarely leave the player. I distinctly recall Finch, Taproot and Glassjaw being the thing of dreams back then - the bands that had us wishing we could play instruments. They ruled our high-school. There was something for everyone in their music. Melodic-punk, nu-metal, hardcore and even screamo. This live record proves not only nostalgic but also, a stark reminder that some bands do have that magic in them to come back years later and pay proper tribute to an album, which in my arcane era, was considered a landmark. Finch delivers the energy and passion here that made their music resonate back in the day and while, their later material strayed a bit, it's nice to get the memo that at some point, Finch were a big thing.

They don't miss a beat at all. "New Beginnings" and "Letters To You" springboard off the album just as strongly as they did in 2012. Nate Barcalow's vocals are solid throughout which shocks even more. It's stretched at times but his versatility and range are still well-pronounced. Finch always pride themselves on diligent music - combining quite a few genres yet never keeping things too simple or too complex. The slashing guitars, ambitious riffs and smacking percussion shine through just as in times past. They add up to highlight how emo and catchy Finch are and this blend reiterates in an undeniable fashion how much their hard stance on pop-punk works. And works well.

The throwback factor increases with each track. Louder, a bit more throaty but still quite telling. "Untitled" continues to wow, especially with the familiar shrill ending where Barcalow's screams grate your ears. Throughout the album, the backup vocals add depth in abundance and match up nicely to the pacey guitars and timely breakdowns. They add a lot of screamo attitude, which if left out, just wouldn't be Finch. The band's melodic lulls, explosive sprawls and catchy hooks are ever-present and fans would recall how these helped them spread their wings back in the 2000s. Fast-forward to now and hearing them stick to this fundamental sound is something extraordinary. You do sense the aged vocals and the wear-and-tear in Barcalow but the band's musical style never shifts into the wrong gears. It constantly remains interesting and keeps prodding that Finch's music deserved its flashpoint status.

Their exploits on tunes like "Three Simple Words" and the self-titled closer are still highly enjoyable and worth soaking in. If you throwback to the original album, which I advise strongly, and compare it to this live set, you'd probably realize how lucky Warped Tour fans will be if Finch pulls things off there like they did here. When the dust settles, Finch paved the way for several bands today and no matter how much they toyed with the mainstream and kept making accessible touchstones within their music, they kept churning out music that was above average.