Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Burial - The Winepress Album Review

This is yet another review from when I was pretty much listening to metalcore 24/7. I'm not exactly sure why I was so obsessed with the genre for so long... maybe I was just generally angry, aggressive, or pissed off, but I am hoping that's not the case. Looking back, the vast majority of the bands I listened to in the metalcore genre throughout 2010, including The Burial, I rarely ever actively go back to listening to. If they come up on random, so be it, but I'm not seeking out metalcore to listen to any longer. I've moved more towards the djent and progressive metal realms now... so I'm sure in a year I'll look back and wonder why I was so obsessed with djent bands! This was originally published on August 11, 2010.

The hooks that metalcore bands have used over time to snag an audience’s attention have continually changed as the scene has shifted from one direction to another. Earlier this decade, metalcore became a popular alternative to the nu-metal glut that had overpowered the metal realm. Once metalcore had secured a foothold, however, bands needed something to set them apart. Why not add some melody and clean singing? It worked for a number of bands, and is still widely practiced today, but eventually that hook wasn’t unique enough, so there was a swing to the opposite end of the spectrum—deathcore. Instead of using any type of melody, bands dug deep to be as brutal as possible, but as we all know deathcore is now a dumping ground for crap bands made up of 95 pound, tight jean wearing, suburban Hot Topic kids that just want to seem intense. So what’s next? If the past 6 to 12 months are accurate, the next shift is most likely towards technical metalcore. This retains the heaviness needed to be “brootal” but also tries to show a band has chops. As with any trend, though, you have trend setters and trend followers. The Burial are one of the latter.

On their short, eight track long Strike First debut, The Burial sound more like Mychildren Mybride than The Black Dahlia Murder (and in case you didn’t pick up on it, that’s not a compliment). It’s obvious that The Burial desperately wants to play alongside the big boys of the genre, but they just don’t quite have the talent to do so yet. They have the song progressions down, they know when to toss in solos, and they eschew any ideas of melody, yet the execution of the individual components leaves something to be desired.

In the vocal department David Marshall has a solid, guttural yell that suits the style of music the band is playing, but there is so little variation in his approach that by the time you get to the end of the album, and it’s not that long, you’ll be more than sick of listening to him yell at you in the same exact manner over and over again. There are the occasional layered vocals, but because he doesn’t have much range it doesn’t do anything more than increase the volume and fill of the vocal passage.

Todd Hatfield and Jeff Wright, manning their axes, have a good command of the technical metalcore realm, but there are weaknesses that can be seen throughout the album. Their progressions are solid and the breakdowns do what they need to do, sometimes sounding like they could be outtakes of August Burns Red tracks (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but the solos and sweeps are where you get the feeling some extra polish and practice could have made a difference. Some of the solos feel rushed while others feel slightly out of place. I actually had a hard time finding solos on the album that sounded like they belonged, which is rough considering The Burial want to be in the technical realm.

All is not lost, however, as the band does show promise. Everything noted here can be addressed by the band. With focus, refinement, and development, The Burial can take the template of the genre, which they demonstrate they understand, and use it as a springboard to create something captivating in the genre. At the current moment, when looking solely at The Winepress, however, we see a band struggling to get where they want to be but taking steps to move forward.

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