Review Summary: Prey on Life is a wonderful metal album, full of minute details that will leave the more ambitious metalhead satisfied.
Something I always strive for when I seek out new bands is a sense of uniqueness. But I’m always thinking whenever I find one of these unique sounding bands, “Are there ten other bands that I have never heard of that sound exactly like this?”. Even though this may be the case for a lot of my recent discoveries in heavy metal, one band has stood above the rest during the few years I’ve been listening to them. Burst’s Relapse Records debut may not hit on all levels of expert musicianship, but I can tell you right now that they are incredibly difficult to classify. For that fact alone, I give them points for being so original and yet so accessible to any metalhead who is willing to take a chance. Their music can’t be summed up by just saying they are simply metal or metalcore or hardcore or whatever genre is relevant at this moment of time. They are a band that has carved out their own little niche through their two more heavily post hardcore influenced albums Loss of Innocence
and the stellar Conquest: Writhe
. Prey on Life
simply builds on these two albums in a well orchestrated manner and does away with some of these more generic genre classifications. Firstly, the overall song structures don’t sound as forced; rather they glide gently over well layered tight guitaring, drums, bass and moody tid-bits of instrumental genius (piano, acoustic guitar) thrown in for good measure. Secondly, their overall song writing has matured significantly, giving this album excellent replay value. Prey on Life
lifts off and becomes a monster on its own with these new, revamped improvements.
What their previous two albums hinted at, this album accomplishes in many ways far and above them. Their carefully crafted songs each delve into atmosphere, whether it’s a chaotic or tranquil moment, the band focuses strongly on writing their songs around this aspect. These guys really know how to play around with the load/ soft dynamics that so many bands try to utilize today. It’s a rather cliché type of music production seeing as the list of loud/ soft dynamic bands is huge. Burst know the right times when it’s appropriate to employ this technique and it really works out well for them on the entirety of the album. Songs like ‘Crystal Asunder’ and ‘Undoing (Prey for Life)’ use this atmosphere like a sharp knife, carving out fast, sporadic whirlwind tunes and all the while keeping a razor-sharp focus on the mood of that particular tune. Also, each song has its own unique feel because of this element, ensuring that this album never becomes boring with great replay value.
All of the songs on this album are exemplary examples of strong guitar skills. Not one note is wasted in a sense that recycled guitar lines are pretty much none-existent on here. The riffs are very smooth while transition points in the songs act like the glue instead of filler, holding the songs together despite the lack of formulaic structures (intro/verse/chorus etc.). One thing a lot of ‘guitar techies’ might notice is the wide range of pedals and distortions the bands utilizes to add even more discovery to the album. These many guitar effects add to the atmosphere previously mentioned while adding a new dimension of flavour to their already jam packed sound. Think of the guitar as the staple to the songs while the atmosphere seamlessly adds in that extra bit of texture to make the songs sparkle. Even the tempos of the songs, created through these two features, change rapidly and sporadically throughout each song and are accompanied by fine performances by the bassist and drummer to help change the direction of the tunes. The only drawback to this album is the vocal delivery and the lack of sung melodies that are merely touched upon that should have been used further throughout the songs. The raw and choppy nature of the vocals might remind one of Jacob Bannon’s vocal delivery on Converge albums, except in this case, the lyrics are at least better understood.
All in all, Burst are only touching on their full potential with this album, easily topping it with its predecessor Origo
. Still, you have to wonder why creative bands like this hide in the shadows and never get the recognition they deserve. Bands that claim they are unique are a dime a dozen and Burst have simply sat back and watched (and barely toured for that matter) all of these metal bands rise above them while personally, I think they should be on top of the pack. For a band that is so relatively young and yet so much better than most, I admire you for taking chances in a world where metal critiques are harsh and metalhead’s are even harsher. For the ‘metally challenged’, this album may have too much creativity for you. For the metalhead ‘risk-takers’ out there, this album has your name written all over it.