Constant improvements within the metalcore genre are becoming a rarity at this point.
About 22 months ago, a group out of Southhampton, England decided to become a bit of an anomaly. Bury Tomorrow seemingly did the impossible by re-imagining themselves in the light of a more thorough and collective metalcore act. Deservedly, they received eager acclaim surrounding their follow-up release (particularly due in part to vocalist Dani Winter-Bates’ sudden transformation into a powerhouse) from critics, myself included. As roughly a “half fan” of the band’s 2009 debut release Portraits, 2012’s The Union of Crowns left me stunned/wide-eyed at the group’s level of progress. One could argue that clean vocalist/guitarist Jason Cameron’s vocals took a bit of a backseat to Bates’ (I would agree, whole-heartedly), however, Cameron’s voice is as pleasant as any you will find in the industry (not just singling out the genre here, folks). Getting sidetracked – moral of the story is that the sophomore effort further built on what the band had previously identified themselves as, creating a bit of a theme – development.
Now that we are all caught up on the short history of the band, I’ll first mention my excitement and anticipation for their third full-length. Early in 2014 it became apparent that the British group was planning a summer(ish) release. After the miraculous development in BT’s quality of sound and musicianship between records one – and two, expectations now shot through the roof (unfortunate in most cases). While many can create a steady dose of awesome either in their debut or following a shit-debut, it is rare to further build off of that in future releases. Expectations are a tricky bitch.
From the album’s opening onslaught, it is clear that Bates most certainly enriched his screams once again. Runes kicks off with the record’s primary single (which I don’t usually dig), “Man on Fire”, that absolutely obliterates most of The Union of Crowns. So far – expectation met.
Diving a little deeper, Bates has clearly found the right tone, which is ultimately what makes the most sense when mixed with his fellow bandmates (easier said than done). The biggest difference between 2009 and 2012 – and now, 2012 and 2014, is just how firmly planted into the music Bates’ screams have rooted. To be blunt – the dude can scream.
One other thing that is vividly clear (aside from Bates’ further progression behind the microphone) is the band’s melodic alteration. Sure, they established this sort of large/monumental sound on TUOC, but the guitars seem to soar a bit further on Runes. Astoundingly, they seem to match the number of breakdowns with guitar solos (this may be an exaggeration). Now, I am quite sure that some readers (“true” metalcore enthusiasts) will snub their nose to that remark, but the combining effect is actually quite pleasant. Stemming further on the theme of evolving one’s sound – this melodic growth is possibly the clearest evolvement Bury Tomorrow have eased into.
As apparent as my love for this band and this new addition to their discography is becoming, the theme of developing remains clear – and thus, my one (spoiled) irritation. Judging music similarly to sports is something I never thought to be fair. Taking an athlete’s season-by-season efforts and grading them each year accordingly – to me, it just doesn’t make much sense in the music world. However, Bury Tomorrow remarkably became a breath of sweet, fresh, magnificent metalcore-air back in 2012 with The Union of Crowns, and even though Runes further catapulted (ha! medieval reference) the band into greatness – the difference between the first and second far exceeds the variation between number two and number three. Perhaps this judgment is unfair, or maybe a little too meticulous? Regardless, when basing an album around a purpose-driven theme, one is at liberty to reach.
At the end of the day, Runes is a Goddamn gem – simply put (which I rarely do).