Label: Music For Nations
Release Date: 3rd July 2020
“The album successfully deals with the discussion and promotion of mental health while at the same time showcasing all of the talent and professionalism that has been honed over a career just short of 15 years.”
The Southampton metalcore quintet return once again with studio album number 6 in the form of Cannibal, their latest collection of work spanning a 14 year long career in the UK metal scene. Expectations were incredibly high following on from their previous release, 2018’s Black Flame which landed at number 25 on the UK album chart upon release and showed the band at the peak of their career. It is fair to say amongst fans that there was a general worry how the band would follow up arguably the pinnacle of their musical endeavours. While Cannibal does not match the marvel of Black Flame, there is still plenty to enjoy spread throughout the 42 minute runtime.
Having pushed back release day for Cannibal from the 3rd of April to the 3rd of July due to COVID-19, the band was forced to adapt to this new and unpredictable situation and release almost half of the album as singles leading up to the new release date in order to keep fans interested and drip-feed them with songs. The album kicks off with ‘Choke’ which was released as the 3rd single. Upon pressing play, the listener is greeted with sporadic guitar tapping provided by guitarist Kristan Dawson which is immediately followed by the instantly recognisable demonic-like growl of NHS Operations Manager and frontman Dani Winter-Bates. The song violently pounds along until the chorus, where the angelic like voice of rhythm guitarist Jason Cameron provides a moment of relief for the listener to catch their breath after such an intense and chaotic introduction. The juxtaposition of harsh and clean vocals has always been one of the main driving forces of Bury Tomorrow and this trend continues on their latest release.
It is apparent that the main lyrical topic is presented to the listener in the form of mental health. The track ‘Imposter’ showcases this most poignantly and touches on the mental health diagnosis of imposter syndrome. Having a background in the medical world through the NHS, this is something Dani has explained he has discussed and encountered throughout his career. He also describes that this is something he can relate to as he feels he is not the most typical example of somebody who holds a senior position in the health sector, while at the same time screaming in a metalcore band. Regarding ‘Imposter’, he describes in an interview with Kerrang! that, “It’s probably the most direct song when it comes to a specific disorder, while the rest of the album is more feeling based.” The track ‘Better Below’ is arguably the albums most sombre contribution. Lyrics such as, ‘I stand here battered and broken / The ground swallowed me years ago / When I returned I wasn't recognisable / Now I'm wondering would I be better off below’ highlight the feelings of despair and anguish that are spread throughout the album.
To accompany the touching lyrical subject matter, the musicianship itself is also just as intense. ‘Voice & Truth’ explodes with a barrage of double bass kicks provided by drummer Adam Jackson while the guitars match the pace created by the rhythm section before leading into a hair-raising guitar solo by Dawson. The breakdown in ‘Cold Sleep’ is one of the best of the album, with the rhythm kept disorganised to keep the listener guessing where the next drop will take place. The final track ‘Dark, Infinite’ also explodes out of the gate with a ferocious drum fill which is accompanied by the ever assertive scream of frontman Dani as the tempo goes into overdrive and doesn’t let up for most of the tracks runtime ending in a bone crushing breakdown.
It was always going to be difficult for Bury Tomorrow to follow up their previous release and despite Cannibal being a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting heavy music experience, the tried and tested metalcore formula they have used and adapted over the past 14 years is perhaps beginning to show signs of slight stagnation. For long-time fans of the band this may not be much of an issue as they continue to play to their strengths. The album successfully deals with the discussion and promotion of mental health while at the same time showcasing all of the talent and professionalism that has been honed over a career just short of 15 years. Bury Tomorrow are still a formidable force in the metalcore landscape and at this stage in their career, an argument can be put forward that they don’t need to implement any new gimmicks within their signature sound.
Words by John Canham.
5th July 2020.