Bury Tomorrow

Portraits

Written by: AP on 24/12/2009 15:38:06

British metal is on the rise, there's no denying it. Whether it's deathcore, metalcore, or hardcore, the old Blighty seems more able than ever to defy the Yankee dominance, with its own distinct sound, production techniques and attitude. There is an unbelievable amount of British metal bands now making a stand, no doubt inspired by the descent into superficial, fashion-conscious mallcore farce on the other side of the Atlantic, and unlike their droll Yankee pals, the Limeys prefer substance over facade, and significance over entertainment.

One of these Limey bands is Bury Tomorrow. In Southampton, the band's home town, Bury Tomorrow are recognized as probably the best band in town, to borrow Carlsberg's famous advertisement in the heart of Copenhagen, as well as the most hard-working. They are involved in multiple facets of the local scene, from bar-tending at the Joiners and DJ'ing at night clubs to hosting their own mini-festivals for up-and-coming bands, and tend to play at least four concerts in town every year. It was at one of these concerts last Spring that I had my acquaintance with the band, and I was instantly blown away by not just the music, but also the band's wide-eyed enthusiasm for all things metal. We have since heard live airings of new songs and anxiously awaited the release of their debut album, "Portraits", which, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the best metalcore albums ever released, hands down.

But before you get too excited, let's check some important things off the list. "Portraits" is by-the-books metalcore, in that it rarely ventures beyond the typical verse/chorus/breakdown formula and offers all but underwhelming musicianship. Not that the individual musicians aren't skilled - there's just a distinct lack of anything too mouthwatering: the guitars opt for tuned down staccato riffing, simple harmonies and lots of weighty powerchord, while the drumming remains unremarkable and pedestrian most of the time, and the bass provides little more than extra weight in the background. Still, the band gets away with it, just like As I Lay Dying got away with it with "Shadows Are Security", by writing some of the humblest, catchiest music heard in the genre since "The Fall of Ideals", and trickling enough texture in the songs to keep things interesting (such as the blast beat in the beginning of "Her Bones in the Sand" and the brief fret sweep that follows shortly after, or the groovy post-chorus in "You & I"). And yet it's hard not to think it strange how well the songs come out without actually venturing anywhere new, or incorporating anything that impressive.

Then again, the band also has a secret weapon in their clean vocalist Jason Cameron (who doubles as the rhythm guitarist), and his competences have not gone unnoticed. Suffice it to say the music has been written around his voice and it's hard to blame them for it. Jason has the voice of an angel, passionate and emotional with enough strain to sound both powerful and ethereal, which he uses to particularly superb effect in the songs "Confessions", "You & I", "These Woods Aren't Safe for Us" and the title track. Like Dallas Green (whom Jason incidentally lists among his main influences), these are some of the best clean vocals around, and are a much desired asset in the genre. Jason's counterpart, Daniel Winter-Bates rumbles in the opposite end of the spectrum with solid, if somewhat standard growls and shrieks, while the remaining members occasionally join his rallying calls with well-timed gang shouts in tribute to the band's post-hardcore origins.

Perhaps most impressive about "Portraits" is that out of eleven songs there is only one worth skipping: the acoustic song "Relief", which is obviously dedicated to showing off Jason's singing. Unfortunately it comes across as pointless and generic, especially when there are much better samples of his ingenuity to be found in just about every other song. Songs where you find yourself asking, where did they find this guy? Interesting also is that many of the songs can be attributed to some other band: "Evolution of Self" has a distinct Parkway Drive feel to it; "Her Bones in the Sand" sounds strangely familiar to As I Lay Dying's "Confined", "Repair the Lining" has the emotive feel of Atreyu's old material, and "Factory of Embers" might as well have been included on Alexisonfire's earlier albums.

And yet it does not feel like plagiarism, but rather, like the coming together of influences that have then been channeled into writing songs that Bury Tomorrow can be proud to call their own. With "Portraits", Bury Tomorrow have written metalcore the way it was meant to be written: simple and devoid of too many frills, and all about the sing-alongs and fantastic live performances. In fact, the lyrics in "Factory of Embers" summarize this fine debut in a way no other words could: "We will rise against the odds to prevail and to defeat!"

Download: Evolution of Self, You & I, Her Bones in the Sand, These Woods Aren't Safe for Us

For the fans of: Alexisonfire, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, Parkway Drive

Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.10.2009

Basick Records

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