Review Summary: 2020 metalcore: exhibit c
I really wish that current metalcore bands had more individuality. A lot of up-and-coming bands, Bury Tomorrow being a shining example, don’t have any distinctiveness to their sound or style. Djenty, bouncy grooves. Clean choruses. Breakdown at the end of song. Spacey, ambient bridge with refrain. Repeat 11-12 times. It doesn’t astonish me that this style has gotten so popular. It’s safe enough that people who grew out of their scene kid days can come back to it without feeling out of their depth, but heavy enough to not be called radio rock. But despite the mockery that crabcore and scenecore and all the 2000s swooped hair bands got, you couldn’t deny that they had a sound and style that was unique, with songs that had random trance parts, two-steps, and a bunch of other things mashed together in defiance of any kind of structure, and quirky song titles and fashion trends that made them stand out in any crowd. I put on Bury Tomorrow’s new record and I saw everything it had to offer me from miles away.
Describing the first track is really enough to describe most of the positives and negatives. “Choke” greets my ears with a bouncy, djenty guitar groove and harsh vocals that soon lead into a clean chorus. Repeat. The breakdown was good enough, I guess. The first thing that becomes apparent a few tracks later is how lifeless the production is. The drums don’t sound like a human is hitting them at all, but it probably doesn’t help that the drummer for this band lacks any initiative to stand out or do anything that isn’t just following the guitars.The fills are non-existent and the beats are just propulsive enough. I can’t really hear the bass, not like it would matter anyways, because it probably just follows the guitars. Like every modern metalcore band, they have the harsh vocalist and the guitarist that does the clean choruses, and both are pretty average. The harsh vocals really don’t have any of the vocalist’s own voice in them, and as a result lack a lot of power. The clean vocalist sounds like he should be fronting an alternative country band.
I know this review sounds pretty negative, but the rating is because a lot of stuff isn’t bad as much as it is done with just enough skill to be bearable. The guitars in particular shine, with some catchy grooves and small solos here and there. But in a scene where almost every band is ripping off Architects, that isn’t nearly enough to be deemed truly exceptional. The concept of this album is pretty unoriginal, but lyrically told well. The songs follow struggles with mental health and other challenges with life and the toll it takes on an individual. A shame the music is so average that it really feels like the theme was just chosen to compensate for instrumentals and vocals that could barely evoke emotion by themselves. There are some interesting moments on the album every once and awhile, that shows that the band has some level of creative ambition. “The Grey” has a pretty cool riff that is present at various parts in the song, and takes more of a slow, post-metal approach to structure. “Cannibal” has an interesting melodic break where the harsh vocalist tries to do some shouting cleans that kind of sound like a Daryl Palumbo impression. If you like this album, just listen to Architects.