Album Review: Brainsqueezed - Scarred

Sébastien Laloue has created a strong batch of tunes on Scarred.
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Brainsqueezed has been compared to the likes of Guns 'n Roses, A Perfect Circle, and Steven Wilson -- lofty company to be sure -- but on the group's second album, Scarred, the group's mastermind, Sébastien Laloue, has crafted a group of songs that live up to the billing. Influenced by the likes of Queen, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, Laloue builds upon those mentors' work, creating a sound that is at once both modern and classic.

The album opens with the fast, acoustic strumming of "Sailors." One immediately notices the striking, rich quality of vocalist Marcello Vieira's voice. The band kicks in on the choruses with the song building in intensity throughout. "Sailors" takes a heavy turn midway through and the group is not afraid to blend light and dark musical textures throughout. Vieira's vocals are excellent and he features on all tracks except the album's finale, "Every Night," which is sung by Audrey Karrasch.

"Penothal" follows and is a showcase for Vieira's many voices, going from an almost evil sounding spoken word part to big melodic choruses. Similarly, the song mixes big power chords with a folksier, acoustic feel. It may seem an odd mix but the band makes it work. On "In The Night," an ominous guitar intro evolves into a powerful piano ballad with a scorching guitar solo. It is a dramatic track with a strong vocal.

"Her Cat" has a creepy vocal over a drum machine before the power chords and slide guitars kick in. The song has a greasy, bluesy vibe and shows the group stretching out into different territories. Brainsqueezed lives up to their mantra on "Bleed For Rock 'n Roll." The song showcases a tight groove and a killer riff and lets the individual members show off their considerable chops.

The album ends with the aforementioned "Every Night." Karrasch gives a strong, powerful vocal on this emotional ballad and the band shows restraint musically, letting the vocals take center stage. While it is a bit jarring to suddenly have a different singer on the last track, the quality of the song more than makes up for it.

On Scarred, Sébastien Laloue has delivered a strong mix of songs that run the gamut of emotions, both lyrically and musically. The songs are light and heavy, powerful and restrained, with strong vocals and musicianship throughout. Well worth a listen.