Album Review: Bury Tomorrow – Cannibal
Dani Winter-Bates is a man with the courage of his convictions. When Bury Tomorrow exploded to the point where the Southampton metalcore quintet were able to start doing the band full-time, the frontman retained his job as an operations manager in the NHS because he believes in the organisation. Even while on tour, he frequently rises at a time most musicians only see from the other side in order to work remotely for his beloved health service.
Another thing he believes in passionately is the normalisation of treatment of mental health issues, which is why Cannibal sees the screamer baring his soul and visiting some very dark places, as he digs deep to untie the knots within. ‘Buried in my own head, falling apart / Choking on my own tongue, tearing my heart,’ sings guitarist Jason Cameron at the conclusion of opener Choke – but these are very much Dani’s lyrics. There’s a palpable and very personal darkness to the likes of Quake and Better Below, while the title-track takes more of an external view. It refers, the singer says, to being eaten away by your own thoughts as well as the people around you. As personal as his words may have been before, this is a side to Dani and his band that has previously never been seen in such focus.
Musically, Cannibal is an album every bit as intense as the subject matter that fills it. The aforementioned Choke absolutely explodes from the speakers with a beast of a riff and a low, heavy breakdown. Elsewhere, The Grey (VIXI) has a wonderfully dynamic ebb and flow between the slamming grooves and its more melodic passages, and you can already see in your mind’s eye the circle-pits that the fast and raw Imposter will no doubt inspire.
And when it comes to the vocals, it should be noted that at this point, Dani and Jason have one of metalcore’s best vocal partnerships. The interplay is spot-on, and the whole band excel in making that transition from the rampantly heavy to the clean and smooth sound effortless, with soaring choruses floating gloriously from the melee. And amongst it all, as Dani examines himself and the world, he does so not through anger, but with frustration, and with the passion of someone who genuinely cares about what he’s saying, and wants to break things to bring about positive, real change.
It’s true that there are few real surprises here, or any major progression in a musical sense. A lot of metalcore acts have changed their sound significantly in recent years, but Bury Tomorrow have largely stuck to their guns and simply honed and improved what they do. There are a few neat twists, like the way Better Below makes use of atmospheric swirls that play around a complex groove, and Quake’s slow-burning, measured approach that taps into a different type of power. But in general, this is the band simply doing what they do best. Only this time, they’ve added a weighty level of emotion and personal openness to the mix that raises the spirit of the record immensely. But as these two elements mix, and the speedy Dark Infinite races to the finishing line in a welter of melodic energy and one last ultra-heavy breakdown, there’s a sense of breathless excitement that makes you want to hit repeat and start the whole thing over once again.
Black Flame was an important album for Bury Tomorrow, seeing them take a huge step forward towards modern metal’s top table. Cannibal looks set to continue that momentum. And if it helps Dani and anyone else to deal with their demons as it goes, that can only be a very good thing.
Cannibal is out July 3 via Music For Nations and is available for pre-order now.
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