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Burial In The Sky – The Consumed Self

Burial In The Sky
The Consumed Self
by Mark Machlay at 10 August 2021, 5:59 AM

Attempting to continue their ascending trend towards becoming Pennsylvania’s zaniest progressive/tech death metal band, BURIAL IN THE SKY is releasing their third full-length album “The Consumed Self” on August 13th. Active since 2013, the Philly-based group have kept a pretty steady grind of touring and recording ever since. They quickly produced their first EP “Pyschosis” in 2013 with another EP – “Transcendence” – following in 2014. A full-length release was finally realized with 2016’s “Persistence of Thought”. These first couple of releases were less progressive focused and instead doubled down on the existential crisis that tech-death metal was becoming – derivative and forgettable yet still trying to outdo the complexity of bands that came before them. Fellow Pennsylvanians RIVERS OF NIHIL took similar stock of their sound and shifted to more memorable, yet still complex arrangements. With the addition of full-time bassist/saxophonist Zach Strouse – who played on the first RIVERS OF NIHIL album -  and drummer/pianist Sam Stewart – both of BURN THE EMPIRE – they began to shift their sound in a more modern progressive direction with the well-received “Creatio et Hominus” in 2018.

BURIAL IN THE SKY have moved even further into the experimental, almost avant-garde modern progressive metal while still having a foot in tech-death with “The Consumed Self”. They have also further expanded their lineup, adding guitarist Brad Hettinger of LEVITATED and DISMAL, and JOREL HART has become the band’s permanent vocalist after only being a guest on their previous release after the departure of original singer Will Okronglis. Acclaimed visual artist Justin Abraham – who has done work for EQUIPOISE, DESSIDERIUM, and INANIMATE EXISTENCE – was tapped to create the epic cover art for “The Consumed Self”. The album was produced, engineered, and mastered by Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland at Atrium Audio who are known for their work with fellow Pennsylvania tech-death outfits RIVERS OF NIHIL, AUGUST BURNS RED, and BLACK CROWN INITIATE.

I can confidently say, with the permanent addition ex-COGNITIVE singer, Jorel Hart, BURIAL IN THE SKY have finally crafted a sound that is infectious and effortlessly re-listenable with “The Consumed Self”. Hart has a strong death metal growl, a competent  black metal scream, and his clean vocals are decent enough with all the melodic layering of multiple tracks, it brings a level of vocal prowess that elevated their previous album and further propels them on this record as well. The songwriting – including the riffs, textures, moods, and melodies – is extremely compelling, even a meandering sax solo – uncharacteristic of most metal music, let alone death metal – is just as captivating as a guitar solo or heavy breakdown riff. The one detraction I have with the work is the loudness. Ever since I heard METALLICA’s “Some Kind of Monster” and the gain clipping madness that was, I have always had a more discerning ear toward clipping and distortion in my metal tracks and unfortunately, the production on this album suffers a bit from that kind of production. The placement of instruments in the sonic sphere is fine, but there are times I’m expecting to hear some harmonic quality from a synth or guitar track and it just isn’t there, giving the whole work a vacuum-sealed kind of sound, almost as if it was too carefully pruned and curated. It was such a letdown because moments like the quiet guitar and synth intro to “Wayfarer” is exquisite and the sax solo spot in the breakdown of “An Orphaned City” could have been far more prominent and bright but a lot of the color seems washed out. Overall, it’s a positive step structurally for BURIAL IN THE SKY but a bit of a downside in terms of production.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 6

4 Star Rating

1. The Soft Violet Light
2. An Orphaned City
3. On Wings of Providence
4. Amaurosis Shroud
5. Wayfarer
6. Mechanisms of Loneliness
7. Mountains Pt.1: To Ascend
8. Mountains Pt.2: Empathy
9. Caught in the Azure Cradle
10. Anatomy of Us
Sam Stewart – Drums, Aux Percussion, & Synth
Zach Strouse – Bass, Saxophone, & Vocals
Jorel Hart – Vocals
James Tomedi – Guitars, Mandolin, Accordion, Synth &Vocals
Brad Hettinger – Guitars & Vocals
Record Label: Rising Nemesis Records


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