Review: “Cannibal” by Bury Tomorrow

Our first introduction to South Coast Metalcore heroes Bury Tomorrow came with 2014’s sophomore album “Runes” and more specifically single “Man On Fire“. Adverts for the “Runes” tour were splashed all over the back of Metal Hammer Magazine and the first bite as they say was with the eye. They looked the part and the album reviews were strong enough for us to first check them out on YouTube and then pick up a copy of the album, which has long since fallen in the the ‘much loved’ category in our music collection. Fast forward though the Baretooth vocalist Caleb Shomo produced “Earth Bound” from 2016 and 2018’s “Black Flame” and we find ourselves here at album number #5. To record “Cannibal”, the band reunited with SikTh guitarist and “Black Flame” producer Dan Weller¬†(Enter Shikari, Young Guns), while mixing and mastering was completed by Adam “Nolly” Getgood and Ermin Hamidovic, the dream team behind “Holy Hell” by Architects. As vocalist Daniel Winter-Bates, rhythm guitarist and singer Jason Cameron, bassist Davyd Winter-Bates, drummer Adam Jackson and lead guitarist Kristan Dawson stood on the stage at London’s Roundhouse in December 2019 at the end of a set where they had played “Black Flame” in it’s entirety, Daniel Winter-Bates gave a speech. He confessed to Mental Health struggles and called of the audience to help each other, friends and family in their darkest hour should it be needed. It was a touching moment and there is little doubt that those struggles will have been documented in some way, shape of form during the recording of the album lyrically, so this should be a highly personal affair.

Bombastic staccato riffs start “Cannibal” off with a in instantly gratifying headbanger of a cut with opener “Choke” which sees the metaphor of choking on your words given a thorough work out with a regretful sentiment about words spoken in haste. It has all the hallmark Bury Tomorrow elements, flourishing leads and brutal vocals but what’s key this time around is that the band have captured with more of a live feel with the recording, a freedom and energy that elevates everything. Title track “Cannibal” is equally as blisteringly energetic with an instant lead riff hook that brings everything together beautifully. As always, Cameron adds the beautiful cleans in contrast to Daniel Winter-Bates beast like uncleans while skillfully tempo shifting to meet the needs of both vocalists. The melodic ambient passage in the final third is similar to Architects work but was hinted at in places on “Black Flame” and they’ve built upon that foundation, adding an extra dimension to their sound. First single “The Grey (VIXI)” sees these unclean vocals reach new depths as the extremes of Bury Tomorrows sound push apart to broaden and while they maybe known as a predominantly a Metalcore act, there is little doubt that their Melodic Death Metal influences have helped shape their sound and are more so evident as their career continues. Lyrically you’ll find yourself singing along from the start of this one, while the line “Take this with you, to the grey” could easily be replaced by “Take this with you, to the grave“.

Recording drums and rhythm guitars at Middle Farm studios (Toska, No Worth Of Man), in South Devon, with the remainder of the album recorded at Vale studios in Worcestershire has served the band well and it has to be said that Adam Jackson’s drum sound is phenomenal throughout and arguably none more so than on “Imposter“. It’s a metallic maelstrom of churning riffs and expansive choruses as Daniel Winter-Bates roars and growls cathartically and comes across as feeling uncomfortable in his own skin, something we can all relate to and something which gives the lyrics that bit much more gravity, grit and authenticity once the headbanging has stopped. “Better Below” slickly contrasts some melodic riffs with against some brutal unclean vocals during the opening verse and the leads soar throughout. Skillfully dropping out the rhythm guitar work in places to allow those leads so shine against the big drum sound alone is a clever piece of craftsmanship as are the brief moments where Cameron’s clean vocals stand alone. “The Agonist” rips with a gang chantable verse that begs for a call and response live, while again lighting the place up with another melodic and well defined solo from Kristan Dawson. There is a risk with “Quake” which ebbs and flows through melodic passages and hard hitting sections as Cameron takes the verses and Winter-Bates the chorus. It’s one that pays off in style as its dark atmosphere and seething chorus adds more texture to the development of Bury Tomorrow’s sound and while it may not have been chosen for a single at the time of writing, it is a stand out moment on the album itself.

Talking of chasing demons “Gods & Machines” sees Bury Tomorrow cut back to the earlier sound of the record while giving Cameron more vocal time. It has some drum fills are nothing short of thunderous and a classic Metalcore breakdown section that is immense. If it wasn’t already apparent during the albums earlier tracks, the personal nature of the lyrics seems of have extracted an extra je ne sais quoi from both vocalists. Not that either of them have ever put in a sub-par performance on any previous record, but there is more edge and more bite to their performances this time around. Hinting at a Machine Head influence it it’s opening burst an pre-chorus venom “Voice & Truth” certainly has some Thrash roots that showcase another side to the Bury Tomorrow sound while still having that anthemic quality about it. The tumbleweed backed acoustic moment that builds into a bright, powerful and technical solo is a masterstroke. “Cold Sleep” sees some of the unclean vocals drop out to single spoken words during a flourish of lead guitar work with thoughts of anxiety and loss littering the lyrics like an insomniacs dream while maintaining those high energy levels and electrifying moments. Indeed the nature of the track sets the tone for the perfect partner for it in “Dark Infinite” which builds on the soundscape of the leads with galloping Metalcore drive and hints at the Gothenburg sound as it stares into the abyss. When you’ve been on the edge for a long time, it’s easy to think that the only way is straight down into the dark infinite and the unclean chorus and accompanying brutal breakdown section is as hard hitting as they come. Bury Tomorrow have topped “Black Flame” and delivered their best work to date [9/10]

Track listing

1. Choke
2. Cannibal
3. The Grey (VIXI)
4. Imposter
5. Better Below
6. The Agonist
7. Quake
8. Gods & Machines
9. Voice & Truth
10. Cold Sleep
11. Dark Infinite

Cannibal” by Bury Tomorrow will be released on 3rd April via Music For Nations with pre-orders available here

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