Artist: Alkaline Trio
Album: Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs
Label: Rise Records
Release Date: January 26th, 2024
Author: Joshua Greenbaum
Chicago’s Alkaline Trio kicks off 2024 with their first album since 2018’s Is This Thing On.
Singer/guitarist Matt Skiba, singer/bassist Dan Adriano, and departing drummer Derek Grant, bring once again the hooks, the buzz, and of course some horror,
The album leads off with the play on words titled “Hot For Preacher ” Some “Wooahs’ ‘ kick it off before Alkaline Trio’s buzzsaw guitars come in. Guitarist Matt Skiba takes the vocals for the first song. More buzzing guitars bring on a new one of Alkaline Trio’s patented hooky chorus.
Track 2, again with Skiba on vocals, takes on a Damned, almost gothic sound. But when the chorus comes around so do the hooks.
Track 3 Alkaline Trio tries something a little more to their sound on the Dan Adriano lead vocals “Version of You” when it starts very angular, maybe influenced by the noisy bands of their hometown of Chicago. The chorus recalls Billy Squire’s “Everybody Wants You”.
On Track 4 “Bad Time”, another buzzing song that only Alkaline Trio could pull off. Ringing guitars start with Skiba’s vocals sounding so smooth, hitting all the right notes. This song could have been right at home on Alkaline Trio’s earlier albums like From Here to Eternity or Good Mourning. “Bad Time” was among my favorite songs when it was released as a single in 2023.
Track 5 “Scars” bassist Dan Adriano continues his role as what I consider Alkaline Trio’s “straight man” with his clearer, more deadpan vocals, compared to Skiba’s scratchier punk-sounding ones. The song has an almost sea-shanty sound. Skiba joins Adriano for some harmonies on the chorus.
Track 6 “Break” is the fastest song on the album. The speed added with its lyrics “Like a werewolf in a dungeon or the brFrankensteinenstein” in the first verse or “Sploshing around in blood” in the chorus, the song could have easily fitted on their blood-filled Good Mourning album of 2003 when they first took on the horror motif. But “Break” also pays tribute to Alkaline Trio’s debut album 1998’s Goddammit! At the end of each chorus. The slight horror theme is again supported during the title track at Track 8 with its chorus of “Like the Undead”.
Track 7 “Shake With Me”, again with Skiba on lead vocals, is a very driving song. Adriano helps on the bridge. The song does slow down in the middle for a bit of a reflective sound, but the hooks do come back before the song ends.
After the short faraway sounding instrumental “Hinterlude” is one more Adriano lead vocal “Broken Down Time Machine”, before the two switches of lead vocals on the album closer “Teenage Heart”. The song, which highlights topics promoted by the media to provoke fear in young people across the country, is probably Alkaline Trio’s most political of their almost 30-year career.
Overall I think Blood, Hair, and Eyeball’s, with its rougher, more fuzzy sound than its three prior albums, courtesy of producer Cameron Webb, may be Alkaline Trio’s best album since 2003’s Good Mourning. Maybe even giving that album a run for its money.