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Record Reflections 7: Blenderhead "Prime Candidate for Burnout"

A series of record "reviews" where the author shares their thoughts & memories about an album, instead of the technical aspects

While I was into heavy metal in my youth, punk rock-- especially the more old school variety-- did not resonate as much with me. I found it too simplistic and often thin sounding. I remember thinking the first time that I heard The Blamed "21" (an album which I now fully appreciate) that it would be cooler if they had a little bit of a tougher sound.

To this day, punk rock is rarely a go to genre for me and I'm quite selective with the bands and albums I listen to in the genre.

Back in the mid 90's when the nascent indie label Tooth and Nail Records was beginning to make it's mark, they used to send out a full color catalog with all of their albums and they offered a short description of each album and the one for Blenderhead's debut album, Prime Candidate for Burnout (1994) simply said "Extra angry punk rock."

Sure I was skeptical... wasn't punk rock already rooted in anger? But, the cover caught my attention so I sought my first opportunity to give the album a listen.

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Buy "Prime Candidate for Burnout" here

My first real band, Royalty Wears Thorns, would likely not have existed if not for this album. I was on campus one day at Clackamas Community College when I saw this guy sitting in hallway wearing a shirt with this album cover on the front. Of course, I had to talk to this guy. How would he know of this obscure band? We chatted for some time. His name was T.J. and he was a guitarist and drummer looking to form a band. He knew a guy named Paul who played bass and could sing a a dude name Andrew who was a pretty solid drummer. While we didn't take much from the Blenderhead sound, they were clearly a vital part of a band I was extremely proud to be a part of (shameless plug, you can listen to our one and only album here, or on any other streaming service).

The extra angry punk rock label was accurate. From the first Big Muff dirtiness of the lead guitar, to the intricate yet brutal drumming of Matt Johnson (who later went on to form another of my favorite bands, Roadside Monument), to the controlled rage of Billy Power on the vocals, everything about Blenderhead hit me in the right places. The music did go far enough for this metal head. It was heavy and sounded full. It held nothing back, it was complete angst and rage, set against the backdrop of intelligent and thoughtful lyrics with doses of the Christian faith that was (and still is) important to me.

My first "real" concert was a Blenderhead concert at the Push in Portland, Oregon. I was struck dumb when I met Billy Power before the show and I couldn't hide my giddiness at getting the chance to see them live. I was front and center for the whole show. I had the entre album memorized and sang every word during the concert. During the second verse of "Spare change" (My favorite track from the album) Billy Power handed me the microphone and let me--ME!-- scream the entire second verse. I thought that that was the coolest thing in the world. This was almost topped when I took home an autographed set list. At fifteen years old, my life had reached it's zenith, but who cares, right? It was in that moment that I was hooked on music and hooked on this album.

Subsequent releases, while still good, had a complete departure in sound opting for a mellower, more emo type of sound. I respect them for what they were and still listen on occasion, but nothing captured my attention and devotion like Prime. Listening to it as I write this, twenty-seven years after it's release, I still know every single word, riff and nuance. It still hits me in all of the write places and still provides a catharsis and joy that music rarely does for me anymore. The album was raw, intense, and honest. It spoke to me and helped me through some of my own teenage angst.

"Cesspool" by Blenderhead

The rest of the Record Reflections Series

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