Bury Tomorrow

The Union Of Crowns

Written by: AP on 27/08/2012 19:44:41

With 2009's "Portraits", Hampshire based Bury Tomorrow set out to prove that Great Britain could produce metalcore on par with Stateside bands, and did so with commendable results. Now, three years later, with "The Union of Crowns" the intention is to prove that Bury Tomorrow can play metalcore as well as anyone; and their abilities as songwriters have consequently taken a huge leap forward compared to the relatively simplistic, if effective "Portraits".

That the album initially feels less impactful, and certainly less memorable than its predecessor, stems from the fact that the two first songs, "Redeemer" and "The Maiden", pack considerably more detail to appreciate than anything on "Portraits". In fact, the composition of these two tracks provides a fine summary of the high standards that dictates "The Union of Crowns", in that the soundscape is bigger, busier and bolder than before. The heavy parts are heavier (vocalist Daniel Winter Bates' growling and screaming especially is exemplary throughout), the lead melodies are more technical and inventive, and the songs sound more dynamic through effective use of quiet/loud contrast. Nowhere is this newfound ambition more pronounced than on lead single "Lionheart", which is arguably the best song Bury Tomorrow have written to date - not because it is particularly broad in its scope or original in its style, but because it hits the listener with such unrelenting force once rhythm guitarist Jason Cameron's clean-sung lines "I've never seen myself before / Spending all my time in promised lands / Our home, the only place I've ever known / I'm not alone" give way to an absolutely breathtaking bombardment of power; the simple, yet infectious chorus seals it as without a doubt the most memorable song on the album.

Speaking of choruses, if you were not already impressed by Cameron's pipes on "Portraits", his contributions here should provide an even stronger argument. The sheer power and emotion of his performance on the expansive "An Honourable Reign" is enough to make grown men watery eyed - his lung capacity, tonal breadth, falsetto and strain are simply unreal. Granted, the vast majority of the 14 songs do follow a rather traditional arrangement in terms of verse and chorus as a consequence. But when you've got such talent at your disposal, it would be foolish not to litter your songs with opportunities for Cameron to shine. And one of the coolest things about Bury Tomorrow is that they've never had any pretenses about the style of music they want to create. It is pure-bred metalcore custom designed for live performances, which might be offputting to some people. Yet in the absence of self-imposed labels like thrash or heavy metal, Bury Tomorrow are able to focus on the strengths of the genre and integrate these to near perfection. So while songs like "Knight Life" and "Bitemarks" will probably not boggle anyone's mind, they're exemplary of the consistency with which nearly every song on the album imprints itself in the listener's memory with immediate effect.

They have this quality first and utmost because, as mentioned earlier in this review, the songs boast such an enormity of elements to focus one's attention on. Even in the band's dullest moments, the breakdown or chug part has been arranged or timed in such a manner as to suggest a huge amount of consideration went into its placement and structure. And when all five let rip collectively, the result is nothing short of immense. Consider as notable examples the mounting final crescendo of "Royal Blood", the unforgettable chorus and solo of standout track "Abdication of Power", the sublime interplay of instruments and vocals in the powerful "Kingdom" and the subsequent "1603", and the delightfully upbeat grandeur of concluding piece "A Curse"; in a day where metalcore has a bad habit of sounding extremely weathered, songs like this are likely to send chills down your spine. In fact, my only grievance with the album is that it stretches across 14 songs of standard length, so that even though the band has taken great care in placing the heavier takes "Message to a King", "Bitemarks" and "Sceptres" in exactly the right spots so as to ensure maximal contrast, getting through the beast in one go can be a rather trying task. But with three years of labour gone into it, one could hardly expect anything less.

Download: The Maiden, Lionheart, An Honourable Reign, Abdication of Power, A Curse
For the fans of: As I Lay Dying, Shadows Chasing Ghosts, Silent Screams
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.07.2012
Nuclear Blast Records

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