Review Summary: Superb drumming and guitar work are the highlights of this album. Rhythmically interesting and challenging
Extreme musical technicality within a band is a double edged sword and there is no median to be found. On one end of the scale you have the ridiculously complex and technical bands that offer intriguing ideas or individual, unique twists on the current sound or a sound they are trying to master. The other extreme holds the nemesis of all forms of art, the imitators. These parasitic creatures wait for the cutting edge artists to gain any sort of well deserved popularity or respect and morph their original ideas into something digestible, while being completely void of the original intent. After stumbling upon incredible bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Between the Buried and Me and obtaining their albums, I became completely devoted to discovering music that exceeded the technicality of the previous bands. After a vigorous search, an epiphany struck me. I decided that playing technical music for the sake of being technical isn't the key to being successful. During my expedition I was introduced to Burnt By the Sun. After listening to Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution
I believe a median has been reached. Not sacrificing cohesiveness for technicality, this album is the perfect balance and is less than a half an hour.
There is no second guessing why this album was made, Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution
is ruthless in its fierce manner. A prime example of this is shown in 'Dracula With Glasses', the album opener. For as short as the track is, it is filled with plenty to become dazzled by. The incredible drumming of Dave Witte never ceases to amaze the hell out of me. Being able to keep a clean focused rhythm with his never-ending, awe-inspiring fills, is certainly a premier drummer in an overcrowded metal scene. With split second pauses that would destroy any inexperienced band, it's a miracle that Burnt By the Sun are able to keep chaos together. Fighting for the limelight, the guitars let loose punishing riffs filled with squealing harmonics, tremolo picking worthy of sending a shiver down any melodic death metal guitarist's spine, and just the right amount of quirky fretboard mastery.
'Boston Tea-Bag Party', somehow catchy underneath all of the harsh and unforgiving tones, is an essential song from this album. The guitarists grind away with the driving force of the double bass pedal. With what I believe is the best display of the vocals on the entire album, the only way I can think to describe Mike Olender's voice is a mix between frantic yelp and an abrasive howl. Regularly adding more uncertainty to an already unstructured album, his screaming is definitely takes getting used to. Sooner or later you will find that his voice compliments the severity of the music perfectly. An odd harmonic rhythm starts being played between the two guitarists and one breaks off into the same rhythm minus the harmonics.This section is one of the highlights of the album for me because of the dynamics that are exhibited, and the creative interplay between the talented guitarists. 'Shooter McGavin' in all of it's triplet filled glory parades around the originality of the guitarists, with the bass trudging along. Most of the bass work included in this album is very reminiscent of the guitar riffs being played. Subtle fills and counter rhythms occupy the spaces where the guitar is playing on the higher end of the fretboard.
'Don Knotts' (I have no idea why the song is titled after him) is filled to the brim with sway and swagger. Reminding me of Pantera,(in terms of groove, not total suck) BBtS set aside their knack for writing complex and intertwining guitar riffs for a song that is a bit more manageable to grasp for a casual listener. By no means is this song somehow inferior to the more technically proficient ones. Being a song that most technical-metal enthusiasts could appreciate, 'Human I Steamroller' makes prominent use of blast-beats, sudden tempo changes and chromatically arranged guitar lines. Standing out from the rest of the songs on this album not because of complexity or speed but because of the use of a clean sound, 'Rebecca' is able to catch any unsuspecting listener off-guard. Basically a contradiction to the rest of the album, the medieval tinged sound of 'Rebecca' is a great and unique way to end the album.
As under-the-radar as this album may be, it still has substantial significance on my outlook on music and my understanding of it. While being the highest form of excellence there is, this albums still posses a few flaws. The bass guitar presents the most obvious flaw, being lost in the mix. Even with headphones that emphasize the bass notes, it was still a chore to listen for. With a record being absolutely crushing nine-tenths of the time, more variety would have been welcomed. Differentiating from certain tracks may be hard if you do not pay close attention. These minor blemishes could not hinder the great material offered here.