As a Brit, I know very little about the state of Pennsylvania. However, the image in my head is a place where a progressive metal band adorns every street corner, given the number of the genre’s top acts that emanate from the state. Rivers of Nihil lead the pack, with Black Crown Initiate another notable artist from the region along with Alustrium helped by this year’s superb A Monument To Silence. A relatively new discovery to me is Burial In The Sky, who launch their third full-length, The Consumed Self, on August 13 – and have been wisely snapped up by Rising Nemesis Records.
Much like their 2018 sophomore, Creatio et Hominus, (and the other artists mentioned above), The Consumed Self straddles that beautiful grey area between progressive metal and technical death metal, cherry-picking the best qualities of the two intertwined genres for a formidable sound. As opener “The Soft Violet Light” gives way to “An Orphaned City” there’s a broad tour of what’s to come throughout the album’s length. Blastbeats from sticksman Sam Stewart drive forward the twin-axe attack of James Tomedi and Brad Hettinger, whilst bass duties and occasional saxophone is handled by Zach Strouse (who also performs the latter for Rivers of Nihil). The timing of the harsh vocal delivery from frontman Jorel Hart is a particular standout on the record, with machine gun-like staccato and rich deep growls sitting perfectly amongst the music and rhythm in particular. Clean vocals welcome the listener into the opener, however across the album are in the minority when compared to the screams.
One of the best compliments that can be paid to this album is that there isn’t a single track or two that stand above the others; more so the work as a whole is one coherent body of progressive and technical metal winding its way expertly and captivatingly between Tesseract-esque clean passages to outright thrashing shreds that wouldn’t feel out of place from the Akeldama days of The Faceless. The album’s centrepiece is the two-part “Mountains” which showcases the full range of the band, from their riffing heaviest (and catchiest) with harsh vocals at the fore, into calmer, ambient slide guitar style passages with velvety smooth clean vocals, and back again. It’s a 10-minute piece that, barring a little violin, wouldn’t feel out of place among some of Ne Obliviscaris’ best work.
A note on the production on The Consumed Self; it’s flawless, which is entirely unsurprising when learning that duties were handled by Carson Slovak and Grant McFarlane – who produced the year’s finest album to date in Erra’s self-titled, as well as having prior experience working on August Burns Red and the aforementioned Rivers of Nihil and Black Crown Initiate. As well as the extremely talented bands they work with, their names are becoming a hallmark for quality heavy music.
By the time the orchestrally backed closer, “Anatomy Of Us,” draws to a comparatively peaceful conclusion after its 12-minute runtime, there’s a sincere temptation to hit play again and listen back to back, such is the range and quality of The Consumed Self. Burial In The Sky may not get as much hype for their new album as their state and genre mates, but in this release, they show there’s more than enough to their music to stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the abovementioned artists. A must-listen for fans of progressive or technical death metal.
The Consumed Self Track Listing:
1. The Soft Violet Light
2. An Orphaned City
3. On Wings Of Providence
4. Amaurosis Shroud
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
Run Time: 57:40
Record Label: Rising Nemesis Records
Release Date: August 13, 2021