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Burning Sister – Mile High Downer Rock

Burning Sister
Mile High Downer Rock
by Gary Hernandez at 16 January 2023, 5:28 PM

There’s a guy in Metal Temple who sifts through the hundreds of digital albums we receive a month. Through a thaumaturgical process—which I am convinced includes the liberal use of Tarot, a crystal ball, a Ouija board and maybe even digital surveillance—he doles out my stack of albums every couple of weeks. Invariably the bands are new to me and invariably they blow me away. So, hats off to this man behind the curtains and hats off to BURNING SISTER. BURNING SISTER is an extreme trio from Denver, Colorado. Over the last three years they have been perfecting their style, which they call ‘Downer Rock’—a play between Stoner and Doom.  On November 4, 2022 they released their debut full-length album, “Mile High Downer Rock” via Cave Dweller Productions.

If you are listening to “Mile High Downer Rock” through anything like tower speakers, you’ll want to make sure your bookshelves have earthquake straps and your glassware is far away from the edges of counters and tables. If you are in your car, you might want to crack your windows or else, yeah, they’ll crack all on their own. And headphones. Well, good luck. Although I do recommend that the best way to approach BURNING SISTER is with high-def, over-ear headgear.

BURNING SISTER formed in the year of our plague, 2020. They released a self-titled EP the same year and went to work for the next several of years on “Mile High Downer Rock.” The album comprises an even eight tracks and runs for just over 46 minutes. If you do the math and allow for two short interludes, that’s about seven minutes per song. You typically only get that type of mileage with Prog or Doom. And there ain’t no Prog on this album.

From the promo material we’re told: “The tracks . . . were conceived over several years so they each have a different feeling, showing how the band’s sound and style have changed and grown.” That’s a cool proposition. And true enough, the tracks do demonstrate a steady progression tempered by an inherent consistency. They do have a trio vibe. No superfluous instruments, everything with a purpose, tight harmony, great musicianship—which is critical 'cause with only three members, there ain’t nowhere to hide.

The album is divided by the two instrumentals: “The Messenger” and “Seraphim.” So three sets of paired tracks. The first set “Leather Mistress” and “Acid Night Vision” have a Cosmic Doom vibe and are both complete standout tracks. They both announce, “We are here and now your neighbors and the rest of the block know it. And you’ll have to get new woofers.”

The second pair, “Cloven Tongue” and “Dead Sun Blues” have a Psych flair and not a small touch of darkness. “Cloven Tongue” also features a bit of Hammond organ, which to me suggests Hammer Horror and cemeteries. So, yeah, Psych Doom in my book. The final pair is “S.I.B.” and “Stars Align,” which are equal parts Psych and Cosmic. First, jesusgod the bass. Who is paying for my cracked molars!?! Second, jesusgod the drums. And, after my molars my spleen. Who is paying for ruptured spleen!?!  My favorite part of this lethal rhythm twinning is the last several minutes of “Stars Align” where the band ramps up the tempo to a crushing crescendo of melodic distortion.

In summary: Good stuff, “Mile High Downer Rock.” Some might bemoan its repetition, but that’s what you get when you explore themes with seven-minute songs. Lyrically, who knows, I couldn’t hear over the riffs and the bass and the drums. I can say the vocals are clean and feature a subdued back-of-stone-cellar style. Guessing they aren’t crying about societal wrongs or unrequited love. At the same time, I didn’t get a Shamanistic ritual vibe either . . . they could be chanting Ancient Sumerian and invoking Cthulhu for all I know. If the world ends tomorrow, I guess we’ll all find out together.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Leather Mistress
2. Acid Night Vision
3. The Messenger
4. Cloven Tongues
5. Dead Sun Blues
6. Seraphim
7. S.I.B.
8. Stars Align
Steve Miller – Bass, vocals, synth
Alison Salutz – Drums
Drake Brownfield – Guitars
Record Label: Cave Dweller Productions


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Edited 04 February 2023

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