Review Summary: Shining brighter than ever
Change is a difficult thing. Especially when it comes to the loss of someone or something important. How do you deal with it? Is it going to make things worse? Will there be a replacement? And will the replacement make things better than what came before?
In the case of British metal veterans Bury Tomorrow, who lost their guitarist and clean vocalist Jason Cameron in 2021, the answer to the last 2 questions is a resounding yes; even if it did take 2 people to replace him. The band now has both a new guitarist in the form of Ed Hartwell and a new clean singer in the form of Tom Prendergast, who doubles up as their keyboardist. A new addition to a band can really give the band a push to integrate the new member into their existing sound in the best way possible. And while the previous clean singer Jason’s vocals were instantly recognisable for their unique sound, the new singer Tom sounds like every other metalcore clean vocalist ever, although slightly better.
You would think that this would be a step down for the band’s sound, but actually they have skilfully avoided a descent into genericore and instead rose to the occasion. This includes all of the members. From the surprisingly creative guitar riffs to the punchy drumming to the luckily still present harsh vocalist Daniel Winter-Bates who retains the vocal recognisability for the band with his unique style being screamed over the top of the stellar instrumentation. This more than makes up for the arguably generic albeit strong clean vocals which still work really well in context. It all blends together to create a metal album that is much greater than the sum of its parts; or the sun of its parts, if you will permit me one small pun.
This is Bury Tomorrow really taking the brakes off and seeing where and how far they can drive. Their 2020 album Cannibal was great but it felt like they were holding back from their full potential and playing it just beyond safe. Now they are really pushing their sound forward, despite their music still being well within the realms of metalcore. The bass is audible, the guitar riffs are surprisingly creative for the genre, and they successfully avoid the common metal trap of making music that is done very well but is nevertheless formulaic (Memphis May Fire and Of Mice & Men come to mind). I’m not saying that none of the songs follow a formula but a few of them mix it up in the structure department. The music doesn’t always go where you expect, which makes it stand out from other bands.
It also stands out because there’s really a good level of musical variety to be found. There’s a good mix of fast and slow songs. The first 2 tracks The Seventh Sun and Abandon Us go in hard, whereas Begin Again and Care pull it back a bit to slower speeds. Recovery shows that Bury Tomorrow can also put out strong mid-speed music. Forced Divide continues this trend. Begin Again features the harsh vocals and clean vocals being used simultaneously, which adds more power to the song and works really nicely. This combination is to be found briefly on Wrath. Majesty even has a piano intro, and there are also some electronic effects sprinkled in for good measure. This band really is versatile. Variation is further proven by the prominence of clean vocals in some songs. Boltcutter and the closing track The Carcass King are clean heavy but they don’t suffer at all for it, because Tom’s voice is really solid.
Lyrical variety is good too. Care laments the fact that we are less connected to ourselves and others than ever before. Recovery promotes accepting your pain and trauma as a part of your life’s journey. Forced Divide is about losing hope through depression. Heretic is about gaining hope through rebellion. There are some great lines to be heard too, such as in the aforementioned song Recovery where Daniel eagerly shouts “They say that knowledge is power but they're not ready for the truth”.
I also love the fact that they have brought back a feature that has largely disappeared from rock albums since the mid 2000s: blending the end of one song into the start of the next one. It makes the album feel more like an experience than a collection of songs. It’s much more cohesive as a result.
There are even a couple of nice vocal features: one from Loz Taylor of the also British metal band While She Sleeps on the song Heretic. This is easily the best song on the album and Loz’s vocals work really well here. The other feature is from singer Cody Frost who really shines on the album’s final song The Carcass King. Here she offers up her powerful singing and blends it very nicely together with the band’s clean vocalist, making it a fantastic closing track.
My only gripe with the album is that the drums are slightly too high in the mix. I can understand why they did it, to make the songs sound punchy and powerful. But this pushes everything else down slightly, to the point that it sometimes distracts from the rest of the music; especially the vocals. It’s a shame because these are some of the best lyrics the band has ever written and if you ask me, the music itself is punchy and powerful enough as it is.
Overall, Bury Tomorrow’s seventh effort, along with other albums in the genre this year, is proving beyond a doubt that the future of metal is bright. The addition of new members has pushed them to new heights, making Bury Tomorrow one of its most shining stars. Time will tell if they can stay in the metalcore sky, but for now they’re definitely up there and shining brighter than ever.