Taking the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury as its theme, Incendium the new album from German death metallers Burial Vault is an intensive and dramatic expanse of atmospheric provocation. A release which works with a concept ‘that embodies a metamorphosis of a human in an inconvenient future both on musical as on textual level’, it triggers full thoughts and emotions across its dark and diverse confrontation. Musically as with the song writing it is superbly crafted and riveting in its intrigue and imagination whilst sonically it sears and entices full engagement but, and it is a pretty big but, the album despite pleasing throughout and defying any predictability or expectations fails to fire up the passions as strongly as maybe it should have. The thirteen track album does everything right though and for the main sets itself apart from most other recent melodic death metal albums and releases. Our review will seem, and rightly so, nothing but a continuous praise and recognition of its impressive creativity and invention but that one important ingredient to truly fire up the senses and passions is lacking.
Since forming in 2006, Burial Vault has forged a sound distinct to them from a thrash and black metal spiced melodic death envelopment additionally washed with loud progressive whispers. From appearances at festivals and shows alongside the likes of Drone, Jack Slater, Lay Down Rotten, Cripper, Torture Squad, and Sinister (o.a.), as well as a pair of EPs, There Is No Resort and Come To Grief, and their first album last year, the Papenburg quintet has earned acclaim and a rich place within extreme metal, something Incendium will only enhance.
The follow-up to their highly regarded debut Ekpyrosis, the Apostasy Records released album is certainly an absorbing encounter which works on and with the imagination through a continually shifting expanse of ideas and skilled enterprise, a craft which colours and chews the air around the imagery spawned narrative. It opens with flames shooting through the air as a melancholic grandeur lifts its emotive head to follow the embers of paper and freedom sweeping on the melodic breeze. The intro to Stench Of Burning Thoughts sets the scene ready for the rest of the emerging track to unleash its malevolence. The song rips through the ear with the rhythms of Immo Groeneveld caging and provoking the senses whilst the rabid riffs of guitarists Tobias Schaub and Alexander Petri incessantly snarl and gnaw the already forged tenderness. It is an impressive and scintillating start which takes a step back for the guttural squalls of Raimund Ennenga to lay out the lyrical premise, his raw throaty rasps a contrast to the sonically harmonic and acidically melodic enterprise conjured by the guitars. The song is a fascinating persuasion, one which is as caustic as it is a dark beauty, and pushes the doors open to incendiary imagery and emotion.
The following A Blind Follower And A Watchful Hound unleashes its individual blackened shadows next, the predatory breath and tone of the song a heavy fire consuming the ear with the intense and inventive drumming of Groeneveld driving and punctuating each aspect pushed on by the equally rapacious crawl of David Speckmann’s bass. As exploratory and dramatic as its predecessor the track does fail to find the same lure and grip on the attention even with a striking and pleasing adventure to its sonic tale.
Through the inspiring instrumental Soil & Green and the excellent Peculiar, where the vocals from the deepest venomous growl switch to a strong clean temptation within a constantly changing musical landscape, the release arguably makes its strongest persuasion yet whilst the likes of The Nightly Horror with its exceptional bestial call and hunger as well as rampaging imagination, the atmospheric aftermath like unsettling scene offered by instrumental Prelude to Peripety, and Fatal Accident explore and incite further compelling shadows and corners to discover. The last of these intrudes with blazing sonic eyes, its leer and touch a scorching on the senses and startling evocation to thoughts, especially with the delicious additional string inducement supplying its own emotive caress.
The mesmeric acoustically coaxed Struggling Doubt with again strings and especially the cello toying with the passions, seamlessly follows the previous song for a solemnly colourful embrace though the vocals here slip in quality, before just as smoothly evolving into Moment of Truth, a song which merges light and dark, beauty and abyss, into an emotional sonic portrait. From this point though the likes of Awareness, Catharsis, and Black into White impress strongly enough, there is no longer the focussed attention bearing down upon the release; no song deserves to be ignored or passed over easily though. Incendium is a fine album even though it does not switch on the passions, but for its craft and imaginative adventure satisfaction and enjoyment is the only reward.
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