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Bury Tomorrow certainly checks all the boxes of being a trendy metalcore band in this day and age. They’ve got the techy but also not fully over-the-top guitar work; the solid, wide-ranged vocalists; the big anthemic metal choruses; and the occasionally crushing breakdown. This is likely the reason why they seem to always be a fairly popular act in the genre, however, they’ve always lacked a certain quirk or uniqueness to garner any of my own personal interest.
So naturally, when I heard that they had a new album on the horizon due out back in April – only arriving this first week of July due to Covid-19 delays – I groaned at the thought of having to sit through another by-the-numbers metalcore release that I’d likely get nothing of substance from. However, after multiple run-throughs of Bury Tomorrow’s ‘Cannibal,’ I must say it was an experience that I didn’t… completely dislike. Shit, I even liked it enough to give it multiple listens and even find a few songs to be truly awesome in their own accord. Though of course, a few great songs does not a great album make.
Bury Tomorrow is not a band that overly relies on gimmicks. That, in itself, is one key factor that makes ‘Cannibal‘ an enjoyable listen. You can take in the album one song at a time without having to worry about being bombarded by unnecessary, boring breakdowns or nonsensical technical wankery that tends to plague this particular style of metalcore. In fact, much of the songwriting on this album seems to be extremely consistent and relatively dynamic.
It’s in their instrumentals where Bury Tomorrow excels, writing catchy and head-moving guitar grooves that take the lead in most songs. ‘Choke,’ the album’s opener, is a prime example of this strength. This sees Bury Tomorrow at their near-heaviest, with grooves that build a high energy atmosphere. ‘Voice & Truth’ follows a similar formula whilst being even heavier than the opening track, with its Slipknot-esque breakdowns and two beautiful, sweeping guitar solos. These are the moments where Bury Tomorrow is at their strongest; when they’re high-energy and blisteringly heavy.
Although, ‘Quake’ also proves itself as an album highlight, trading down-tuned chugs for ethereal, soaring clean guitars and sorrowful singing. However, this is where I begin to find some problems with ‘Cannibal.’ Because it seems as if for every great track found, there’s also a mere “okay” (at best) or uninteresting track (at best) to go alongside it right around the corner.
‘Gods & Machines’ is another terrific standout, and features possibly the most intricate and interesting guitar work on the whole record, but two songs later you get two really quite bland songs in ‘Cold Sleep’ and the finale, ‘Dark Infinite.’ The front half of the record is also littered with tracks that fail to gain any major traction, such as ‘The Grey (VIXI),’ my least favourite of the bunch. Nonetheless, there aren’t any genuinely bad songs to be had, just some that could have been improved upon with perhaps some bigger pay-offs during their run-time or maybe more memorable, interesting sections that push the band’s sound farther.
Regardless of me not loving this album or anything of the sort, I can say without a doubt that there are many singular aspects to ‘Cannibal‘ that I do like. For starters, vocalist Daniel Winter-Bates has a really special scream and brings a uniqueness as a whole to this album. Winter-Bates displays an absolutely impressive screaming range on every song, like the guttural low growls of ‘Voice & Truth,’ and guitarist Jason Cameron nails some anthemic baritone singing during the titular track. Another truly admirable quality of ‘Cannibal‘ is the very technical but digestible guitar work found all over this record. Guitarist Kristan Dawson has a very distinct talent as a songwriter, which shows on tracks like the groove-laden ‘Gods & Machines.’ The guitar work is the sole backbone of this record, building a certain tone and atmosphere with each note fired-off.
The lyricism, while playing on some very typical metalcore tropes at certain points, is especially brilliant in others. For one, ‘Quake’ takes a dark dive into the world of depression in self-harm, with painful lines such as “night grew thick as the oceans hit the sand, I drag the blade across my palms to feel my hands.” Elsewhere, ‘Choke’ talks about having trouble with keeping secrets from the ones you hold close, with lines like “buried in my own head, falling apart. Choking on my own tongue, tearing my heart.” This album is all about normalising mental health discussions, talking about the stigmas that only serve to eat away at people (much like a cannibal), and I think that’s a fucking great message for Bury Tomorrow to send out into the world. Now more than ever.
While FAR from perfect, ‘Cannibal’ shows that Bury Tomorrow are aware of their strengths and are playing to them well. I can’t say that I’m in love with ‘Cannibal,’ but I also can’t say I truly dislike it either. I find myself somewhere in that hard to distinguish middle: content and admiring the clear potential that Bury Tomorrow display but also not having it ‘wow’ me at all. For me, ‘Cannibal’ definitely seems to be this U.K. band’s most cohesive work, but I still cannot bring myself to enjoy them quite as much as others rightfully do. While I know that Bury Tomorrow’s fanbase will adore ‘Cannibal,’ I can’t help but see it for what it is: a flawed, familiar-sounding melodic metalcore album, with a couple good songs spread out amongst the larger track list. Even so, Bury Tomorrow still seem ahead of many other bargain bin metalcore bands who attempt this sound. They just need one truly great album to cement them as a stand-out act, in my mind. Bury Tomorrow have a lot of great qualities, and a lot of potentials to make something pretty damn amazing in the future, but as a whole, ‘Cannibal’ simply fails to eat its way into my heart.
03. The Grey (VIXI)
05. Better Below
06. The Agonist
08. Gods & Machines
09. Voice & Truth
10. Cold Sleep
11. Dark Infinite
‘Cannibal’ is out Friday, July 3rd: