Sixth album Shrine (out June 3) is the sound of those lessons, that keener understanding of the fans-eye-view, being deployed to seize success far greater than that promised two years earlier.
Written in the immediate aftermath of Fracture, and recorded between Genesis legend Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios in Bath (close to Ali’s current home in Bristol) and BFW’s main recording base in Dalmarnock, east Glasgow, they engaged with long-time collaborator Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood of Periphery, as well as Jamie Finch of London rockers Anavae, but undertook the lion’s share of the work themselves. With experienced producer Steve handling that side of things, the other members self-employed in music industry (or industry-adjacent) jobs, and metal mega-label Nuclear Blast happy to provide resources but remain hands off, there was ample room to experiment and push the boundaries of what they’d already achieved.
“We know where that bar is and where to push,” explains Ali. “We don’t have a choice but to set that bar for ourselves and continue to raise it. We’re arguably the most active metal band in the UK at the moment, but that’s because we’re inspired, because we’re working well together and because we’re moving forward. Fracture served its purpose. It filled the gap. And it gave us focus. Without that album to keep us going over lockdown, we risked falling into obscurity. But now we’ve delivered what’s unquestionably our best album to date, musically and lyrically.”
Indeed, across its 12 machine-tooled tracks, Shrine feels like a sonic step up. Lead single I Am Damnation was selected specifically to give fans a preview of the sonic evolution: its scratchy synths, pulsating keys and massive melodies evoking giants of modern metalcore like Architects and While She Sleeps. Levitate showcases the input of composer Simon Dobson and the Parallax Orchestra who contributed swelling string-sections throughout. Flesh And Stone is an exercise in high-drama evisceration that slams the accelerator and barely lets up. Shapeshifter feels like a fine-tuned update of the throat-ripping sonic violence that got them here in the first place.