Review Summary: Like a house of cards, Runes constantly runs the risk of collapsing in on itself while barely holding itself together.
It feels kind of hard to not root for Bury Tomorrow. They are a great example of a band not compromising their vision of melodic metalcore even over the shouts of naysayers and the incestuous genre as a whole. Yet because of this, it has always been difficult to rate them anything higher than ‘That band who are always supporting a much better band.’ This is likely because as most of you already know, metalcore is dead, or at the very least a faint shadow of the titanic force it used to be. The Union of Crowns was actually quite promising, featuring some pretty great moments held back by a few instances of average song writing as well as generally poor production. There were however, many positives from said album, some great lead guitar moments (from then guitarist Mehdi Vismara) and the very British tale of kings and maidens was generally refreshing. So one could say Runes has a lot to live up to, and with new guitarist Kristan Dawson now among their ranks, Bury Tomorrow feel like they could have finally hit their stride.
Or at least that’s how it feels initially, Runes is the most confident and immediately grabbing Bury Tomorrow yet. Opening with lead single ‘Man on Fire’ it feels like maybe the generic riffing and occasionally mis-placed clean vocal sections, a pretty major issue for the band in the past, have gone. Unfortunately this is not the case; while Runes sure does have some stellar moments, it is held back by a list of glaring issues. Once again Bury Tomorrow are held back by predictability, songs rarely evolve beyond the typical a-b-a-b-c-b structures, one could argue that this is always the case with melodic metalcore, however just because As I Lay Dying did it a bunch of times, is not an excuse for bland song structures and general laziness.
Speaking of AILD, new lead guitarist Kristan Dawson feels like he would not be out of place in the aforementioned band. Imagine every metalcore song released since ‘An Ocean Between Us’ and you’ll have a pretty good idea. While previous guitarist Mehdi Vismara threw in some pretty wacky (yet cool) lead sections that may not have always worked. At least they weren’t outright boring and to be honest it can only really be summed up as lame and generic (‘Of Glory’ and ‘Watcher’ are the worst offenders). Vocally the biggest improvement is lead Daniel Winter-Bates who admittedly still has the same range as on previous outings, has managed to improve his general presence and gives the best performance of the entire group. Singer Jason Cameron, prominent as ever still gives a great showing in terms of raw talent and diversity. But it isn’t that either vocalist is bad, it just feels like they never manage to maintain an interesting level of duality. Cameron still insists on butting into every song, as with previous albums, yet here it feels more irritating than ever. Not just because most of the performances play out the same way, but that it feels like it holds back the song writing where there has to be a section in every song where it all slows down for good old fashioned sing along, not to mention the often ‘cheesy’ lyrical content (ugh).
Thankfully Bury Tomorrow have at least learned a few lessons from ‘The Union of Crowns’. Gone are the unnecessary and often misplaced breakdowns, which now feel quite natural and flow with the music. Percussion handled by Adam Jackson has also improved nicely, gone are the clicky double bass kicks of ‘TUOC’ and have now been replaced with actual production and creativity that feels like actual thought has actually been put into making sections interesting, rather than going with whatever works to keep the beat. Bass is practically inaudible as with almost every other metalcore album in existence, while not exactly a glaring issue, it just would have been nice to actually hear what was happening under there. As an overall album, it feels like Runes was created for its ‘Anthems’. It does hit a few highs (Man on Fire, Another Journey) but its shocking lows (the absolutely awful ‘Of Glory’), which were blatantly made for live performances ‘to get the kids in the pit moving’. Which is a shame, ‘TUOC’ had a bunch of moments that expanded ‘BT’ sonic pallet (Sceptres, 1603, A Curse), and it’s just a shame because there is absolutely none of that here.
Unfortunately Runes feels like a missed opportunity, considering this is the album “The band always wanted to create” it has left me scratching my head. There never are really any ‘Oh Snap!’ moments where everything comes together and really hits home, not to mention the rest of the album is plagued by most of the same problems that have infested their previous releases. But that is not to say it is unsalvageable, Runes still some pretty fun moments that prevent it from completely slipping into rubbish territory. It’s just a shame to hear such a safe release from a band; that at this stage should be taking creative risks rather than making an album that feels like a pretty weird tribute to their idols. Bury Tomorrow have somehow created their tightest, yet more boring release yet. Any album that’s a creative wasteland such as this is a mistake that should never be made twice.