|Release Date||6 December 2019|
Marylandian (Marylandish? Marylandite? Fuck it, whatever.) heavy metal vets Burning Shadows have released four EPs and three full-lengths since their beginning in 2000. Their sound has been built on a beefy power-laden foundation and adorned with epic vocals and choruses. However, their latest effort, Beneath the Ruins, sees a change from their previous material, trading a lot of the power metal elements for more of a thrashy approach. Nevertheless, the riffs are still huge and crunchy and the band is solid, so the change of pace isn’t bad at all.
The most prominent way in which Beneath the Ruins separates itself from most other US heavy metal albums is with its production quality. Where bands like Visigoth and Haunt keep things “authentically” lo-fi, this album is full of contrast and sharpness, retaining a heavy metal feel musically rather than relying on poor mastering.
The EP begins with a strong-and-steady banger in ‘Blacken the Sky’. The energy level picks up more for ‘The Grey Company (Paths of the Dead)’, which also has the best chorus, and continues to rise into the final two tracks. The driving force behind these four tracks is the imposing massiveness of the rhythm section, but the solos and smaller details, such as some growled sections and other background guitar parts, keep the whole thing fresh and exciting. There are also three bonus tracks to enjoy (if you decide to purchase the album), of which two are live versions. The actual new bonus track, ‘The Shadow from the Steeple’, is my favourite on the entire EP. It’s dynamic and hearkens a to a more classic sound, and it’s an all-around blast.
If there’s one area Beneath the Ruins suffers, it’s in the vocal melodies. Tom Davy‘s throaty, bellowing vocals are great, but there’s not a whole lot of variability in the way the melodies are structured. In a live setting, for this king of music, that isn’t really a big deal, but it’s things like that that usually pull people in to listen to again regularly.
Beneath the Ruins is a worthwhile listen for anyone who likes darker, aggressive heavy metal. It has that pounding, chugging drive that Burning Shadows does so well and, despite not having the ammunition to blow any minds, you can still crank it to blow down the fucking walls.
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