Review Summary: Bury Tomorrow hit all the right notes on album "The Union Of Crowns" but is let down by its excessive run time.
The ink was still drying on the new contract signed with Nuclear Blast Records when UK metalcore outfit Bury Tomorrow entered the studio to record the remainder of their follow up to 2009’s “Portraits”. Having ended 2011 with the releases of lead singles “Lionheart” and “Royal Blood”, the south coast based quintet had the wind in their sails going into 2012. It also became clear following the announcement of the tracklist of “The Union Of Crowns”, that they were undertaking an over-ambitious workload in releasing a 14-track standard issue album. Make no mistake, this isn’t a short, sharp hardcore album populated with 2 minute long songs. “The Union Of Crowns” clocks in at a rather excessive 55 minutes though it could be argued after three years of stewing, Bury Tomorrow were always going to have a substantial repertoire of material.
Drawing on a much wider range of influences Bury Tomorrow have improved markedly. Offering up an assortment of intricate, melodic death metal lines that wouldn’t be out of place on an As I Lay Dying album. “The Union Of Crowns” is barely recognisable when compared to its predecessor; it could quite easily be a different line up. Whilst continuing to tread closer to the melodic end of the metalcore spectrum, the bright leads dished out by guitarist Mehdi Vismara help neutralise an overemphasis on chunky, open note rhythms. Amid the barrage of breakdowns and the checkered performance of lead vocalist Dani Winter-Bates, Bury Tomorrow seem to have established a formula that separates them from their peers and has allowed them to avoid the pitfalls Miss May I and others have fallen into – in being unable to establish a sound of their own. Bury Tomorrow seem more focused on atmospherics. They have harnessed an ability to write more measured sections, where the aggression is toned down for tasteful instrumentals and this I feel is where they excel most.
There are areas that need attention though as briefly touched upon. Bury Tomorrow still have an obsession with padding out songs with breakdowns. This wouldn’t be so much a problem if they moved between tempos but with the exception of “Sceptres” the tempo doesn’t deviate often. Also, whilst Winter-Bates’ vocal performance is thunderous whilst being more refined than that in “Portraits”, it is still rough in places. The screams are too dominant in the mix. The lows can particularly grate as they are often are too low and unfitting to song sections that aren’t breakdowns. The more prominent clean vocal sections of “The Union Of Crowns” are thankful relief.
One component of the band whose performance has remained at a constant is clean vocalist Jason Cameron. He was the star of “Portraits” and whilst he is given a much closer run for his money this time his performance is nothing short of outstanding. The ease with which he moves between high and low pitch, loud and soft is remarkable. The band seems to have struck up some good chemistry this time around and know how to bring the best out of Cameron. Anthemic closer “A Curse” is a fitting end to the album and gives Cameron the spotlight to hit the soaring highs he is famed for and get the hairs on your arms standing up.
“The Union Of Crowns” is an album packed with highlights, “Kingdom” being the brightest of those. 11 songs would have been ample and had Bury Tomorrow not gotten so bogged down trying to lay out so much material we would have been met with a melodic metalcore benchmarker. As it is, it must be checked out by fans of melodic metalcore.
Message To A King