REVIEW: Blind Channel – Lifestyles of the Sick & Dangerous

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If we were fans of original BLIND CHANNEL, the time has come to face BLIND CHANNEL 2.0: the famous version. Yes, that’s right, after having participated in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest with the track, “Dark Side,” the band has taken off, changed managers, and found a vaster and more international fanbase. As such – and considering our long history with the band – we felt it was only natural to check out their latest release, “Lifestyles of the Sick & Dangerous,” out on July 8th, 2022, via Century Media Records.

The attitude problem that is this album opens with “Opinions,” which sounds a bit like ISSUES. While the chorus is pretty strong, we wondered a bit about the message here. While it’s true that all art is basically taking bits of what’s already been done and doing what you will without worrying about other people’s opinions is the right way to go, saying outright in your song that you don’t want to take selfies with fans? That’s a bit much. On the whole, a pretty catchy song, but I’d have to read the lyrics properly to see if it’s got a good message or if it sounds a bit like fame got to be a bit much for these guys too fast and they’re not into the lifestyle.

In our unpublished interview, Niko Moilanen states: “The point was, with ‘Dark Side’ and everything we did, everybody seemed to know better what we should do or what we shouldn’t do, and we didn’t listen to any of them. We know what we’re doing. My favorite line on the song is, ‘do you recall when I lost myself and asked your help? Yeah, me neither.’ That’s the mood in ‘Opinions’ and the whole album, as us as a band, right now, in this moment. That’s how we’re feeling.”

Next is “Dark Side,” which truly should need no introduction by now, since it was their big Eurovision hit from 2021. I always thought this was one of the band’s worst songs, objectively, as it’s hard to be on board with anything that glorifies the 27 club as a good thing to be a part of. It sounds a bit too similar to COLDPLAY‘s “Hymn for the Weekend” for starters, and would have benefited from more heaviness and a less cheesy breakdown, even if the song bangs it out towards the end. Also, the catchy chorus ends up being a bad ear-worm that lingers for longer than it’s welcome.

“Don’t Fix Me” is one of those songs that toes the line between being nice, in the form of “it’s okay that I’m broken,” but problematic in the “there’s no need to fix this.” The pop-punk, old ESCAPE THE FATES vibe may work well to open shows, but the rap part doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the song. However, the chopping guitars and many of the sound effects are really solid. The lyrics, however, have ultimately been done a thousand times before, and there’s a toxicity to the idea that people shouldn’t try to get better since it fuels them, which ultimately is the path to self-destruction. “I’m dead inside / and it’s all right / so don’t fix me”… I’ve had a bad enough run with depression lately to actually be kind of angry about these lyrics. Stop telling people to not get help!

The album takes a turn for something a little more melodic and poppy with “Bad Idea,” with a pretty nice chorus, though the synths and vocals could be more varied from the instruments to give the song more texture and breadth. If “Don’t Fix Me” has terrible lyrics, this song actually has pretty good lyrics, which are more of a warning that the person is not okay and not to push things on them that they can’t handle right now. They go heavier into the hip-hop with “Alive or Only Burning,” with a strong opening riff and a great twist on the “roses are red, violets are blue” poem, but the song drags a little as it approaches the chorus, which ends up being surprisingly soft and a little too saccharine. This song could have gone all-in on the heavy stuff, or even added a poppier bit to make a stronger build to the final chorus. Genre-wise this is one of the most pure violent pop songs on the album, but lyrically, still a bit too emo.

Another familiar single is “Balboa,” which I admittedly ignored as a single but turns out to be one of the best songs on the album. The chorus is really catchy, very LINKIN PARK, though they could have turned down the “more” singalong part a bit to help it really punch up when played live. The metaphor is again a bit cheesy, but they kind of make it work with this one.

“National Heroes” was a complete mistake – this song should be used as a live mid-set intro to “WE ARE NO SAINTS,” but it has absolutely no place on the album, as there is nothing musical on offer and it simply makes the band seem arrogant and cocky. This would have made sense if it was the beginning of the album perhaps, but it is not an interlude and should have been fully left off the album. “WE ARE NO SAINTS” has a pretty strong classic BRING ME THE HORIZON feel to it, with a pretty good old-school metalcore vibe. Alas, the lyrics in this one do still carry a hint of that arrogance from “National Heroes,” as something about it comes off conceited.

The electric drum into to “Autopsy” is pretty solid and the fry rapping gives off a good vibe, though the clean vocals coming straight afterwards sap all the interest from the song, which drags a bit after. The song is okay, but only stands out for doing trendy things and being slower than anything else on the album.

“Glory for the Greedy” is one of the album highlights, with strong lyrics and a bit of a derivative chorus. The rapping really works here, though they would benefit from changing their beats to heavy 808s and ominous synths to beef up the sound. These are some of their more respectable lyrics and the ending is heavy and powerful. The album then wraps up with another one of the best tracks, “Thank You for the Pain.” It’s a good message, to reflect on things that have hurt you and see them for what they helped you achieve, and the song has an ALL TIME LOW feel to it and offers a good direction to their sound. The heavy parts work and the final speech in Finnish at the end talks about how happy they are to be doing this, as the best memories from the band are everything, every note. If that’s a clip from an old interview from when they were still on the rise, that’s great, but if that was recorded just for this album, it feels a bit like a lie.

Again, Niko comments: “I think those are my favorite lyrics I’ve ever written. It has the sense of a biography song about the 2 years… like ‘it took me 8 years to become an overnight success’ and ‘all the welcome to the show biz, hope you like ibuprofen,’ those parts, but the chorus was my favorite because the chorus was where it all started. It was just something I had written when all of this hype, all of this craziness… you’re the center of attention all the time and it fucks up your head, and it’s not always like… people are talking and not all of them are saying good things. There are also a lot of bad things being said about you. I got this idea that, ‘when all the success rumors, trophies, are just reasons to break you, nobody watches you more closely than the people who hate you, go give them a show,’ and that felt empowering, to say something like that, and that was how ‘Thank You for the Pain’ started.”

Some part of this album makes BLIND CHANNEL feel like tired young adults who weren’t prepared to get this big this fast. They are fully at their best when they’re still slinging positivity, with tracks like “Balboa” and “Glory for the Greedy,” but when they’re being emo, like in “Don’t Fix Me” or “WE ARE NO SAINTS,” they feel really toxic and honestly sound like they’re not doing well on an emotional level.

We’ve had some concerns over the past few years that BLIND CHANNEL didn’t solidify who they were to themselves before getting big and making a bunch of changes. Perhaps the biggest risk has been the band becoming whiny first world problems boys, singing about things they don’t understand because it feels rebellious and stylish. Frankly, having known of them as long as I have, they’ve always had a rebellious nature, but I wouldn’t call any of them “sick” or “dangerous”… they don’t have the history of poverty, abuse, and trauma that the artists they take their influences from have. Once you spend some time with people who have had serious issues with abuse, mental health disorders, trauma, and drug abuse, you start to realize how surface-level this kind of music is, as they don’t seem to really understand the stuff they’re singing about; rather, it feels more like they listened to a lot of LINKIN PARK and BRING ME THE HORIZON, and decided to try and do a bit of everything they were doing, without the same reasons for doing it that those guys had.

Furthermore, one of the most exciting things about BLIND CHANNEL was seeing how they were going to twist their songs together. While there is appreciation that the album has fewer poppy tracks like “Sharks Love Blood” and while the addition of Aleksi Mattson was actually a boon to their overall sound, there was nothing like “Deja FU” that was an impressive clusterfuck of genre mixing – the whole album is pretty uniform in sound overall. Surely the new fans they gathered with the release of “Dark Side” will be very happy with “Lifestyles of the Sick & Dangerous,” but for us old school fans, the future remains uncertain.

Written by Bear W. & Riku K.

Tracklist

  1. Opinions
  2. Dark Side
  3. Don’t Fix Me
  4. Bad Idea
  5. Alive or Only Burning
  6. Balboa
  7. National Heroes
  8. WE ARE NO SAINTS
  9. Autopsy
  10. Glory for the Greedy
  11. Thank You for the Pain

Lineup

Niko “Nc Enroe” Moilanen – vocals

Joel Hokka – vocals, guitar

Joonas Porko – guitar

Olli Matela – bass

Aleksi Mattson – keyboards

Tommi Lalli – drums

Label

Century Media Records

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