Review Summary: Saved by the very thing that should've ruined it.
The longevity and persistent existence of some bands can be utterly bewildering to me at times. Some might scold the creatively ambitious for morphing and changing their sound, ostensibly to scratch an unfulfilled itch they couldn’t reach in their early, wet behind the ears days, but given how difficult it is to maintain status in this expansive music world it seems a lot of artists do it to keep just that. Many fail miserably at it of course, but I see admiration in their attempts nevertheless. Then there’s the type of band that repeats the same formula over and over again and somehow retains that same level of anticipation and buzz. I get it, some people don’t like change and enjoy hearing the same thing time and time again, but Bury Tomorrow is a pretty unique case, a group I’ve never fully understood the appeal of. They have their modus operandi and never want to move away from their safety blanket. Bury Tomorrow have that AC/DC quality to them where you know exactly what you’re going to get: a jaded contrast of harsh and clean vocal work, soaring high-frequency guitar passages and the typically inhabited metalcore traits of half-time chugging and fret-busy solos. But I’m not here to judge, they do this sound well, but there’s always been a chronic element to their writing that plays things far too safe and in the confinements of the melodic metalcore rulebook as if their lives depended on it. It just doesn’t sound all that exciting – at worst sounding corny and forced, at best conveying a half-convincing performance. The reality of the matter is I’ve listened to all their work slumped in a chair with a stoic expression on my face and walked away with complete indifference on what I’ve just heard.
Keeping to their code of continuity, differentiating Black Flame
is a painstalking task where you’ll spend a number of rotation cycles looking for a red herring, concluding there isn’t anything different to be found. It’s business as usual for Bury Tomorrow, cooking up more of the same heart-wrenching, tear-jerking cleans and angsty gruff screams with the same orthodox technical instrumentation you’ve come to expect from the band. There’s a slight spike of interest coming from the guitar work at times, the Pantera grooved verses of “More Than Mortal” bring a slightly weightier meat than usual and “Stormbringer” has a nice enforced jagged attitude to its introduction, but honestly there’s barely a peppering of innovation waiting for you here. The pillars for this LP continue to use the rhythm section as their heavy linchpin, while twinkly guitar leads and gritty screams set the tone for any one of the tracks here before shifting into your typically cliché chorus of melancholic radio hooks. Oh, and there’s an abundance of solos to accompany these lethargic numbers. It doesn’t help that the vocal dynamic always damages the tonality of songs. “My Revenge”, for example, sets off with a mid-tempo riff and Jason’s washy cleans which then shift into a quicker pace of frantic drums, fiddley guitar fills and screams before going back into what it started with. I’ll admit, I find this kind of songwriting completely obnoxious, not only does it make every song a predictable exercise in waiting for the angry one to take over from the beautifully sung one
, it has an emotional (I say emotional loosely, because I didn’t feel invested in anything being offered here.) pushing and pulling that ruins potentially solid ideas. The point being it’s this good vs evil theme in melodic metalcore that endures and when it comes to writing for either spectrum it can have a stop-start effect to songs, which is definitely a problem here and feels like a stitching of ideas all being sown together.
There was one aspect I found curiously entertaining about Black Flame
though. A writing choice that left me baffled every time I went through the record again: the outros. These dangerous and boggling little segments stand as unnecessary and cumbersome weights to songs. You literally stand to gain nothing from these exiting passages. They don’t even setup the proceeding songs well – if anything they make the transitions worse. The problem stems from these parts feeling like an afterthought than a core theme and focus for Black Flame
. “Black Flame” for instance has an outro of 1:30 seconds, consisting of spacey electronic ambience and Dan shouting ‘black flag’ repeatedly in the background. There’s absolutely no context for this change of pace, nor does it feel earned. You could argue these build-ups are a prelude to “Peacekeeper” and it’s closing minutes of ethereal post-rock influences but honestly, it’s a stretch of optimism. The sad thing about it is these eyesores were actually the most engaging parts of the entire album; so strangely put together and listening to them linger around for absolutely no reason was a breath of fresh air. It’s a tough one, everything here functions well, the musicianship is fantastic and it's clear these guys are talented, but there’s no risk involved where it should be. Compositions are so stagnant at this point it’s almost eye-rolling when you hear the songs. Obviously, if you enjoy what Bury Tomorrow do then this will gel with you, it’s aimed at existing fans and that’s fine, but for anyone else, when you’re finding more enjoyment from the U-turn ambience sections it speaks volumes for what this brings to the table.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: DIGITAL/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶V̶A̶R̶I̶O̶U̶S̶ ̶B̶U̶N̶D̶L̶E̶S̶
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.bury-tomorrow.com/