Review: “Rex Mortem” by Burned In Effigy

Six years ago back in 2016, Chicago Illinois Burned In Effigy started out as an instrumental Neoclassical Melodic Death Metal quartet brought together by a mutual love of complex, melodic and heavy music. They unleashed hell with their 2017 debut EP “Terrestrial” which paved the way for shows in support of some major players including Scale the Summit, Angel Vivaldi, Oh, Sleeper and Mushroomhead but the desire for a vocalist was always there and after working with a few, Mark “Smedy” Smedbron was chosen for the role in 2019 with demos for the bands debut album “Rex Mortem” in play. The departures of both guitarists Brad Dose and Vito Bellino for various personal reasons after the album was finished in 2021 has since seen the band rally and recruit Mike Hisson and Steve Bacakos their wake…

…so after that history lesson, you can appreciate the hard work that it has taken to get this album over the line and the decision not to re-record the guitar work with the new players is a really nice touch, paying tribute to the musicians who created this record and were a major part of the bands journey, even if they’re not a part of it going forward. One thing is for certain, the new guitarists have their work cut out for them when it comes to matching and surpassing the quality of the band work on “Rex Mortem“. The album comes to life with “Doomsayer” which has Nekrogoblikon vibes about it minus the synths with Smedbron offering up shriller, dry and rasping larynx threatening unclean vocals while using pitch changes that give the impression of twin headed vocal attack with the way that they have been layered. The solo is a sumptuous one, vibrant and bright in total contrast to those vocals which gives the cut a sense of majesty. The quality of these recordings is second to none, the drum sound is crisp and  clean, giving everything a thunderous percussive feel while some Jazz inspired bass work is really interesting. There are also Progressive Metal inspirations here with  “Artorias” having a mid song melodic break that sounds like Aaron Marshall from Intervals is making a guest appearance, which is both unexpected and stunning. The other side of that melodic coin is the Black Metal inspired blast beats of “Nightfall“, which has some seriously heavier touches as well as tuneful majestic leads that are just jaw dropping. Everything in the album is very finely balanced, the intricacies and interplay being not only key to the bands sound but also what sets them apart from the pack, there is a joy to it that is inecapable, it’s so clearly the music of musicians who love music. The drive of faster cut “Hades” makes it one circle pit worthy, the slick transition into another sublime technical solo before bursting into an unexpected but perfectly executed breakdown section being another real moment among moments. Then you have the whirlwind of finale “Vendetta“. Put simply, half an hour of power better than this you will struggle to find [9/10]

Track listing

  1. Doomsayer
  2. Artorias
  3. Nightfall
  4. The Empiricist
  5. Hades
  6. Atlas
  7. Treachery
  8. Vendetta

Rex Mortem” by Burned In Effigy is out 28th January 2022 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.

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