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Bloodjinn hammers heads

by Amy Kingsley

Joel Collins won’t be spending much time at home this summer. The lead singer for thrash band Bloodjinn will be taking his ensemble on the road for six weeks starting in May, and then, after a two week break, will head back out on the road until late September.

Bloodjinn will be sharing a bill with Epitaph band Vanna when they set out next month. And they’ll be relentlessly promoting their newest release, This Machine Runs on Empty.

Machine is the third full-length for this 8-year-old band that evolved from a rapcore project founded by brothers Joel and Justin Collins in the late 1990s. Joel is the last remnant of the original lineup, which now numbers five and includes a former member of influential metal band He is Legend. Each iteration has jiggered the outfit’s chemistry; the version on display in Machine is a potion perfected, Collins says.

Bloodjinn self-released its first EP and has represented a different label on each of its full-lengths. The band is a graduate of Tribunal Records, the local imprint that has nurtured major metal talent like Scarlet and Atreyu. This album was released by Pluto Records, a Texas-based label.

The songs themselves have more heft than the average thrash number, clocking it at an average of more than four minutes. Two weigh in at longer than six minutes.

The album title is an apt description of much of the music. The kick drum oscillates between the persistence of a teletype and the omnipresence of a locust swarm. It often sounds mechanical, with breaks for soaring, dueling guitar leads that echo 1980s power ballands.

“Musically we’re just more mature and we have more song structure than we did before,” says lead singer Joel Collins.

The musicianship is precise, a trademark of the genre, and occasionally eclectic. A flair for arrangement emerges during quieter interludes at the beginning and end of the album. Standout tracks include the opener “In the First Degree,” which features a tide of virtuoso guitar work, the hooky “A Moment of Clarity,” and “The Maker,” a song with puzzling role-playing game references and dizzying leads.

“Lyrically we tried to get a little bit meaner,” Collins says. “We tried to get a little bit more personal.”

Collins’s lyrics emphasize personal relationships and loss.

“We don’t do opinions,” he said. “We want people to be able to grab the material as it relates to them. Anyone who’s had a breakup or lost a loved one or experienced happiness can relate to our lyrics.”

Collins dredges his words from the depths of his bowels and bites them off hard. His speaking voice is Southern and genial, but he sings like a junkyard dog.

His lyrics are impressionistic, and delivered in concentrated doses. The usual line consists of three words, phrases that resemble Zen koans of teenage alienation. “Mirrored Human,” the third track on the album, shows Collins’ writing at its most typical.

Took the full turn/ Only to be taken away/ I am somber/ A void that will never be filled

On occasion, Collins manages to stretch a single syllable into an entire line. The lyrics flirt with darkness, but lack the kind of violent specificity that might earn Bloodjinn a Parental Advisory sticker.

Before they leave for tour in May, Bloodjinn will be playing a couple of shows for their hometown fans. In Winston-Salem on May 6 fans can catch Bloodjinn at a free show as a promotion for a local skate shop. On May 11, three days into their tour, Bloodjinn will play at the Soundvent in Thomasville; they won’t be back in the area until late August, according to their MySpace profile.

To comment on this story, e-mail Amy Kingsley at amy@yesweekly.com

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