Bury Tomorrow – Black Flame album review

Metalcore mainstays Bury Tomorrow return with their sights set high on Black Flame

Bury Tomorrow Black Flame album cover

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Black Flame

Bury Tomorrow Black Flame album cover

1. No Less Violent
2. Adrenaline
3. Black Flame
4. My Revenge
5. More Than Mortal
6. Knife Of Gold
7. The Age
8. Stormbringer
9. Overcast
10. Peacekeeper

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As the latest original release by the recently revived and much-revered Sony imprint, Music For Nations, Black Flame follows in the footsteps of genre royalty like Metallica, Slayer and Opeth. Add to that Bury Tomorrow's perpetual ‘ones to watch’ status over the last 12 years and the weight of expectation on their fifth album is almost too much to bear. Appropriately, Black Flame is nothing if not ambitious. Coming out swinging with a trifecta of some of the best songs they’ve written – No Less Violent, Adrenaline and the lead title track single – the first third of this album is a masterclass in a band refining, without reinventing, their sound.

As might be expected, there’s a polish to Black Flame that puts miles between its sonics and those of 2016’s Earthbound, and that’s a double-edged sword. The melodic choruses sound huge, and there’s a pleasing clarity to Jason Cameron and Kristian Dawson’s razor-sharp riffs and finger-bleeding solos. There’s also a somewhat clinical feel to the whole effort. Songs like The Age have toothless guitars and drums that sound almost robotic. It’s also hard to shake the sense that Jason isn’t yet a sufficiently accomplished singer to pull off some of the melodies being written for him, leaving potentially anthemic tracks like Stormbringer sounding like missed opportunities. It’s not even that his singing isn’t up to scratch per se, but that the album’s production seems to lack confidence in it and hides him behind walls of reverb and a mix that verges on bashful. But with Black Flame, Bury Tomorrow are swinging for the very best, so there’s no shame in missing. When they properly pull off that balance of aggression, melody and groove – as on closer Peacekeeper, which is a future festival favourite – it just goes to show up the material that preceded it. On the strength of Black Flame’s best songs, Bury Tomorrow could very well join Architects and Bullet For My Valentine in the upper echelons of British metal, but they really need to step out of the shadow of Killswitch Engage and forge their own path. This is a huge step forward for Southampton’s finest, but doesn’t quite feel like the finished product.