Metalcore bands tend to have a limited shelf life. No matter how good the band is or how big their fanbase is, the rigid boundaries that encompass their genre leave little room for experimentation, and more often than not bands will spend a number of albums repeating what they’ve achieved in the past. Bury Tomorrow’s relentless touring and unwaveringly dedicated fanbase means that their popularity won’t be dropping any time soon, but in terms of releases, new album Earthbound suggests that a progression isn’t really on the cards.
That’s not to say it’s a bad album though. The only thing the Bury Tomorrow albums are really comparable to anymore is themselves; there aren’t really any other British metalcore bands that spring to mind that are on the same level as them. By that logic, Earthbound has the dubious honour of being judged next to Runes, an album that increased the band’s scope, ambition and melodic capacity by an enormous degree, marking a definite career highlight. Earthbound is a far more concise package, toning down the increased sense of grandeur for a much more condensed, blunt assault. It transpires as a slight step back from Runes in this sense – the onus feels less on experimentation and pushing forward and more on playing to their strengths. That’s something they do very well, but there’s not the same magisterial aura to this album as was present on its predecessor. It’s more of a brusque gut-punch that an all-encompassing pummeling.
But it’s in those technicalities where almost all of Earthbound‘s faults can be found, as the actual songs on this album prove that Bury Tomorrow are anything but a spent force. It’s all the heaviness and melody that made them great in the first place cranked up to the nth degree. Last Light is possibly the best example of bridging the gap between Runes and Earthbound, the only real moment on this album that manages to maintain its predecessor’s scale, but still with the skull-shattering bite that’s the primary feature on here. The rest of the album tends to stick to their tried-and-tested combo of brutality and big choruses, but it’s one that they’ve mastered and doesn’t seem to have dulled a whole lot. The likes of the title track and Cemetery drop like anvils with breakdowns that have an impact that most other metalcore bands could only wish to muster, while 301‘s pure rage feels like a hurricane in a bottle (as well as having Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta drop in for a few lines and a whole lot of street cred gained).
While the actual music itself hasn’t gone through much of a change, there’s one that has taken place between the band’s dual mouthpieces. Dani Winter-Bates and Jason Cameron have been one of metalcore’s most potent vocal tag-teams for the last couple of years, but on Earthbound, they’ve really gone all out in emanating the heaviness of the album. Dani’s screams have a sort of necro edge to them now (not unlike Miss May I’s Levi Benton in places), especially on thrashing closer Bloodline, but the Most Improved award wholeheartedly goes to Jason. This is the strongest his cleans have ever been by a mile – whereas they previously had a tendency to waiver a bit and feel a tad airy, they feel much thicker and fuller this time round on the truly monstrous Memories in particular.
It all makes Earthbound a strong listen the entire way through. It may stagger slightly compared to what Runes achieved, but despite this, it’s an album that, once and for all, marks Bury Tomorrow as one of the most talented metal bands Britain have got, and that their well-publicised hard work has paid off. And while it may seem like a step back in the long run, at the very least Earthbound proves few bands can make an album as consistently good as Bury Tomorrow.
For fans of: Architects, Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Earthbound’ by Bury Tomorrow is out now on Nuclear Blast.