For Fans Of
‘Black Flame‘ is a return to form for the Bury Tomorrow lads. For ‘Black Flame‘ and it’s ten-tracks show what is essentially a well-oiled “Best Of” release for Bury Tomorrow. It’s got those occasional glitchy, electronic elements; the high-levels of vocal aggression from frontman/screamer Daniel Winter-Bates; those mosh-pit-erupting guitar chugs and breakdowns; those huge melodic metal lead guitar melodies; plenty of towering clean vocal hooks; all now with a hi-fi mix and larger production backing said parts up. It’s an album that takes every aspect of the band’s metalcore sound and smears those painted brush strokes altogether. And the end result for the U.K. outfit is their most solid album since ‘The Union Of Crowns‘ six years ago. (I’m not old in the grand scheme of things – I’m 23 now – but oh boy, do I feel old remembering shit that happened in 2012).
Whilst fitting into the same realm occupied by your Architects‘, your Parkway Drive’s, your Killswitch Engage’s, and your Unearth’s, Bury Tomorrow hold their ground well. As they’re now totally set on re-igniting their own metalcore spark with ‘Black Flame‘; heavily armed with some solid tracks to show the world what they’re fully capable of. As the clear intent of this album is to wake people up, but not quite to the ills and injustices of our cruel world in an attempt to be the “wokest” in the room. Rather, it’s a wake-up call to let fans and people know that Bury Tomorrow as an entity is still alive; that they are still kicking hard and fast against life’s mortal coil. That their names as individuals and as a collective unit won’t end up on some unmarked grave years from now. Which is why this new LP comes storming out the gate with a catchy yet savage song like ‘No Less Violent‘; a massive live set-opener if there ever was one! The very same can be said of the record’s second track, the freeing “let-go” attack of ‘Adrenaline‘, and it’s insane levels of festival-sized rhythmic bounce. This really is the most driven Bury Tomorrow have sounded in years.
Then there’s the album’s anthemic title track, the monolithic beast itself – ‘Black Flame‘. This dizzying piece was actually the launch song for this new record’s era and it’s so damned easy to see why – this is “their” song! That immensely solid “light-dark” dynamic between the clean vocals and the passionate, heavier screams is just so well-written and executed on this cut. The song’s hooks and it’s overall structure flow well and is incredibly well-suited for packed-out venues to go wild – big or small. That powerhouse chorus shows that both Bury Tomorrow and metalcore still have plenty of life left in their bones yet. And man, the track’s sky-high riff/lead output should hopefully fill up YouTube feeds with guitar playthroughs for the rest of 2018. It truly is one of Bury Tomorrow’s better songs, not just of this record, but of their career as a whole too.
Guitarist/clean vocalist Jason Cameron and fellow six-stringer Kristan Dawson load their chambers up with chugging chords, noise-gated riff assaults, and some deliciously sweet lead work across the record. All with a few flashy solos included for good measure too (see: ‘My Revenge‘ and ‘Black Flame‘). In the specific case of Cameron, the guy’s voice and use of vibrato have come leaps and bounds over the years – even if his parts are often a little too drenched in reverb here. But alongside the album’s grandiose production, his vocal performances here are as vital as ever for the band’s sound. In a similar vein, Daniel Winter-Bates has got to be one of the most underrated metalcore vocalists going these days. The dude has got a pretty decent range, and just puts so much venom and energy into his vocal delivery. Also, while I’ve seen most reviewers not give the time of day to drummer Adam Jackson, he’s crucial as to why these new songs work. As there’s so much propulsion behind tracks like ‘Knife Of Gold‘, ‘Black Flame‘, and ‘No Less Violent‘, and that’s all because of Adam’s abilities on the tubes.
The group reaches their most lethal and musically effective iterations during the sparse and ominous sections of the penultimate ‘Overcast‘, as well as the earth-moving breakdowns heard on ‘More Than Mortal‘ and ‘Adrenaline‘. The band hits an especially wicked heavy maelstrom when they opt into throttling riff and blast-beat carnage for the album’s brutal sixth track ‘Knife Of Gold‘. It’s the closest Bury Tomorrow have ever come to sounding like a melodic death metal band and I fuckin’ love it! In these instances, when Bury Tomorrow nail the sweet-spots of their heavy yet still melodic metalcore formula, ‘Black Flame‘ is at it’s very best.
Yet a song like ‘The Age‘ just feels so… dulled. Like it was only meant to be a single track; lacking the necessity and impact of other material present. This goes double for a song like ‘My Revenge‘, where it sadly feels like mere filler. Then later on in the track-listing, when ‘Stormbringer‘ is careening through melodic metal verses and decent breakdowns, it works well. Yet the attempt at having these bigger, anthemic sing-along choruses don’t hit the mark, like say, the album’s awesome title track does earlier. When a record like ‘Black Flame‘ is this consistent in sound and style, when there’s a song or two that just don’t cut it (in whatever department), then they stick out like a sore thumb. And this album does get a bit samey towards the finish line, admittedly. Thankfully, ‘Overcast‘ pulls up out the record’s nosedive during ‘Stormbringer‘ by taking the band’s metalcore sound to a much darker place. On top of that, matters end on a strong high note with the closing vigil of ‘Peacekeeper‘; what with its more dynamic nature, well-placed use of layered guitar melodies and tremolo, and spiritualized lyrics of our minds, actions and words living on after death. Further indicative of the true meanings burning away deep within the core of ‘Black Flame‘.
‘Black Flame’ is a summarization of everything good about Bury Tomorrow’s sound; melody, mosh, malevolence and meticulousness. For a band that’s been grinding for over ten years now, their fifth album feels like the genuine start of a new beginning; a new leaf being turned over. It doesn’t at all redefine what metalcore or heavy music in the modern era can be or sound like, but that was never ever once the intent on the band’s part. It’s a record solely meant to push them forward, not necessarily their wider genre. For this is an album made for Bury Tomorrow themselves and for their fans first, everyone else second.
- No Less Violent
- Black Flame
- My Revenge
- More Than Brutal
- Knife Of Gold
- The Age
‘Black Flame’ is out now! Read my recent interview with Daniel over here.