In their conjoined quest for self-realization Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania spawned progressive death metal band Burial in the Sky have tapped into the liberating knowledge of anattā, the impermanence of all beings, in reshaping the balance of their performative psychedelia-tinged technical death metal. With greater themes echoing hints of unintentional Zoroastrianism and post-Kant syncretic Gnosticism ‘Creatio Et Hominus’ moves upwards with weighted themes and further from the relentless machine-fed staccato mentality of tech-death. In composing the intentionally potable knots that still relate to their previous record Burial in the Sky haven’t made a ‘softer’ follow-up but instead something that is far more exciting for it’s unquestionable tonal diversity.
Encroaching upon their eighth year co-conceiving complex death metal permutations musicians James Tomedi and Will Okronglis assumedly began their noodling as qualified teenagers in various groupings before settling into the harmony of Burial in the Sky in 2013. Each recording since has been professional and reasonably high concept be it psychotropic fiction or pondering the philosophy of perception. I find it rough to contemplate the musical influences involved but there is no doubt they appreciate modern progressive metal as much as they pull influence from modern technical death metal. In rising up amidst such a complex and derivative society as that of ‘tech’ metal, Burial in the Sky‘s earliest recordings ‘Transcendence’ EP in 2014 and their debut full-length ‘Persistence of Thought’ in 2016 inherited the anxiety apparent in most modern technical death metal. This aspect of their sound has been deleted.
Only the sharpest progressive metal minded tech death bands have yet begun to understand listenability equals longevity and personal connection cannot be sustained without memorability. It has been a transformative revelation for groups like Inanimate Existence and Rivers of Nihil who seek accessibility and discernibility on stage and off. I think these Pennsylvanians are on the same road. With the momentum hot off of their well-received previous album the exit of Okronglis called for a re-conception and restaffing of Burial in the Sky. Two additional members, Jorel Hart (Cognitive, Wormhole) on vocals and bassist/saxophonist Zach Strouse (Rivers of Nihil) rounded out this new, easier listening progressive psychedelic technical death metal version of Burial in the Sky. Tomedi‘s poetic treatment of perception as reality from the perspective of great thinkers is nearly as intricately high-concept as the resulting progressive metal of ‘Creatio Et Hominus’.
Saxophones are a tool of seduction as far as I’m concerned whether it’s a bad Foreigner song or a bad Morphine album, they’re still particularly alluring to children of the 80’s and early 90’s. Although I could not ultimately warm up to ‘Where Owls Know My Name’ because of the djent-tones, the honking was a nice addition. I’ve found some greater solace in the easy-listening jive of ‘Creatio Et Hominus’ and the arrangements never get so challenging that the ‘point’ of any track is lost. It might be Hart‘s relatively straight forward vocals but within the more aggressive sections I get hints of Mithras or, again Inanimate Existence. Within the softer majority of the record I see where the nigh constant comparisons to Fallujah stem from, but that’d only fit if you spliced out that band’s melodic death metal influence with some heavy duty post-rock tendencies.
While ‘Creatio Et Hominus’ is a beautifully composed album that still retains some greater register of death metal throughout it does ultimately feel like a heavy progressive metal record with growled vocals more than it carries any torch for progressive death metal’s early history. This isn’t so much a point of fault but one of necessary description. Burial in the Sky might be pleasant enough for Cynic fans but it isn’t necessarily an eighth generation re-imagining of ‘Focus’. The one issue I have with all Burial in the Sky recordings is the mild bass guitar tone. Yes, Strouse is quite good and I’d like to hear a -real- bass tone the punches in the mix with greater acoustic presence and less a sputtering afterthought. As nice and dreamy as the bass sound is, perhaps tuned for that specific effect, they’ve missed an opportunity for distinctive sonic personality and additional rhythmic power. It’s not a real gripe just a comment from a fan of bass guitar in death metal.
Burial in the Sky have used the momentum of ‘Persistence of Thought’ wisely in iterating on it’s strengths with greater embellishment and restrained composition. ‘Creatio Et Hominus’ is a highly listenable experience despite how brutally delivered it’s performances are and for every harshly blasted rant there is an equal buffer of soul-rubbing prog metal to retain balance. That I have little to complain about when listening to this album isn’t necessarily an immense endorsement, though. I was more than happy to listen to it for hours at a time, yet felt no major urge to return after 7-8 full listens. It is the sort of record I will happily fall into, but not dying to exhaust. I have to commend Burial in the Sky for making one of the more listenable, meditative technical death metal records I’ve heard in a while.
|Released||June 1, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Burial in the Sky’s Bandcamp!||Follow Burial in the Sky on Facebook|
A Loud and virtuous death. 3.75/5.0
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