Review: “Black Flame” by Bury Tomorrow

Southampton Metalcore heroes Bury Tomorrow have been gradually building their foundations for a long term career in Metal since their birth in 2007 and now releasing their 5th studio album “Black Flame” sees them reaching for new heights. 2014’s “Runes” was a massive album for the band and lifted them to the next level as a band, seeing them regularly out in Europe and on the festival circuit. 2016’s follow up “Earthbound” saw the band once again up their game and prove the naysayers wrong with fine production from Caleb Shomo of Attack Attack! and Beartooth fame and a guest appearance from Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta. Two years on, does “Black Flame” show that continued growth or do Bury Tomorrow follow the path of genre pioneers Parkway Drive and take bigger risks?

Starting the album off with the slow rise of buried electronics into “No Less Violent”, Bury Tomorrow deliver a track with a more Progressive Metalcore sound than perhaps we’ve heard from them before. Buried synth sounds underneath the clean vocal lines from rhythm guitarist and singer Jason Cameron while the rest of the track delivers the bands core sound. “Adrenaline” increases the urgency while including some nice lead guitar flourishes before album title track “Black Flame” rears its head. The song was chosen as the lead single from the album and it’s obvious why – it rates among the bands finest work to date. Capturing the spirit of perhaps the bands previous stand out moment “Man On Fire” from 2014’s “Runes” and bringing the big clean chorus to life with some big lead guitar work from Kristan Dawson, it’s an arena filling anthem that has done the European Festival circuit this summer and will no doubt continue to do so for many years to come. The album cut of the single includes an atmospheric synth filled electronic closing that hints at possible future songs while also acting as a pallet cleanser for the middle part of the 10 track affair.

“My Revenge” brings to the table the type of material that Killswitch Engage brought along for “The End Of Heartache”, with Jason Cameron’s clean vocals akin to Howard Jones in stark contrast to Daniel Winter-Bates brutal uncleans, which give Jesse Leech a run for his money. “More Than Mortal” showcases the bands pounding rhythm section of bassist Davyd Winter-Bates and drummer Adam Jackson as they drive the attack along at pace. The rise and fall of the music doesn’t let up or slow down for the clean vocal parts while the uncleans are among some of the finest in the bands history with some particularly dry and caustic moments. Once again closing out a song with an industrial or perhaps remix inspired sequence of buried electronics acts a refresher. Second single “Knife of Gold” opens with a fine guttural roar from Daniel Winter-Bates and some classy Metalcore chugging riffage and before the clean vocals come in you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to another band. It’s highlighted by a big guitar solo but in places it’s muddied by the mix for which SikTh guitarist Dan Weller has to take some of the blame. That powerful rhythm section and those clean vocals are buried some what in the mix at times and the drum sound is about as far as it gets from crisp and clean. Third single “The Age” has more of the familiar unclean-clean-unclean play off that we’ve heard plenty of through Bury Tomorrow’s career but a spoken to unclean step up, step down section from Daniel Winter-Bates adds something fresh.

After a short bridging electronic passage, “Stormbringer” starts a break neck pace, one of the fastest songs in the bands career to date and while it does not betray the bands Metalcore sound, it instead brings something fresh to the plate with one of the albums finest cuts. At times Bury Tomorrow run the risk over overplaying and while they are honed musicians there is a lot that could be considered samey when you’re not diving into it deeply. This is something that the band managed to avoid with “Earthbound” thanks to it’s fine production job and while they manage it with this one, it’s a lot closer to the wire. “Overcast” brings back the melody to the mosh while adding eerie and atmospheric leads to some of the bands finer breakdowns. The transition into closer “Peacekeeper” is perhaps the least good of the electronic moments and it’s easy to see how they could be decisive among fans. For the most part, they work quite well but in places they need shortening or smoothing out and the final bridge is the weakest. Fortunately, the cathedral of Metalcore lead guitars bring a high energy before falling away into post-rock industrial tones that brings with it something powerful and new. Lyrics about life after death perhaps have a hidden meaning that will come to light through interviews and it’s a fine song. The album as a whole has a distinct air of refining the bands sound without ever wanting to make the sort of sonic leaps that some of the bands peers have made. In doing that, Bury Tomorrow have skilfully appeased their fan base and avoided the miss-step that could cost them dearly in the long run. “Black Flame” isn’t an album that grabs you by the throat at the first time of listening but it is one that rewards over multiple listens through buying into the bands lyrical themes. There is more to this one than meets the eye and it has slow burn that works well, given the time. [7/10]

Track list

  1. No Less Violent
  2. Adrenaline
  3. Black Flame
  4. My Revenge
  5. More Than Mortal
  6. Knife of Gold
  7. The Age
  8. Stormbringer
  9. Overcast
  10. Peacekeeper

“Black Flame” by Bury Tomorrow is out now via Music For Nations

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