Album Review: Burner - It All Returns to Nothing

Album Review: Burner - It All Returns to Nothing

Burner’s eagerly awaited debut full-length is a dark, brooding discourse on the misery of human existence and the failings of society. Delivered with a power and energy befitting the emotional nature of the subject matter, the band effortlessly blend extreme metal styles to create a cohesive and devastating album, suggesting a maturity greater than the sum of their years.

Since signing with Church Road Records and announcing their debut EP 'A Vision of the End', Burner have been busy making a name for themselves in the UK extreme metal scene. At the tail-end of 2021, they were being featured by the likes of Kerrang and Metal Hammer as one of the new bands to watch in 2022. I caught them supporting label owners Employed to Serve on their UK headline tour, and the hype all made sense. The chaotic energy that comes across in their live performance is intense, leaving me (and many others) awaiting their debut with anticipation.

Opening track 'Hurt Locker' starts with a quick burst of feedback, before launching into a fury of drum-fills and punchy hardcore riffs. The vocal range of frontman Harry Nott is demonstrated instantly, with low gutturals and high, piercing shrieks interchanging throughout. 'Hurt Locker' is a true demonstration of what is found across the entire album. A barrage of riffs and aggression culminate in a metallic-hardcore style breakdown, before yet another chaotic and brutal riff sees out the 3-minute opener.

The title track is up next, opening with thrash-like intro guitar triplets and the words “it all returns to nothing” echoing over the top. The next 30 seconds showcases part of the reason this album is so special. A barrage of riffs in different styles, hitting one after the other, with no regard for conventional song structure. If not executed perfectly, this could easily sound disjointed and more like a collection of riffs than a song, but Burner have no problem making it sound cohesive. The breakdown hits early, providing a welcome change of pace, before they launch into yet more insanity. The drumming really shines on the second half of the track, with fills and blast beats firing off with ferocity and precision. At this point we’re less than 6 minutes into the album, with an overwhelming amount packed into the first two tracks, it feels like we should be further along.

Next track 'Pyramid Head' has more of a hardcore feel to it, albeit with a lot of Thrash and Death Metal sprinkled on top. The next two tracks 'Struggle Session' and 'Pillar of Shame' are along similar lines, mixing hardcore, death metal and thrash with the previously mentioned cohesion. The occasional tremolo-picked riff, with higher-pitched screams over the top provides a blackened edge to the sound, again this doesn’t feel out of place and blends nicely into the mix of metal subgenres on display.

Track 6, 'Trinity', is the first point in the album where we can come up for air. A short, atmospheric instrumental provides a nice break in proceedings before the following track, 'Prometheus Reborn' opens with a choppy, dissonant riff, reminiscent of Converge or maybe even The Dillinger Escape Plan. Things continue at the same frantic pace for 3 tracks until track 10, 'An Affirming Flame', which has a more progressive feel to it. The band give themselves a lot more room to experiment here, with the track coming in at over 7 minutes, containing an atmospheric instrumental build-up in the middle, and ending with a section that has a melodic black metal sound, before rounding off with a sludgy breakdown. Perhaps a nod to future experimentation with subgenres, it works well and highlights the band’s versatility further.

Burner wear their influences on their sleeves. The Converge comparisons are justified, there’s also mathcore influence, with bands like Botch, Coalesce and The Dillinger Escape Plan coming to mind. The fast-paced, blackened melodic death metal style of The Black Dahlia Murder can also be heard from time-to-time. This is by no means a detriment to the band’s output. Their creativity in bringing all of these elements together, and the musical skill at which they execute them is clear. For a debut album and a young band, this is an incredible achievement. The future looks bright for Burner, and if the future of the UK extreme metal scene is in the hands of bands like this, we have nothing to worry about.

Rating: 9/10

Release Date: June 23rd 2023

Released By: Church Road Records

FFO: Converge, END, Coalesce

Track Listing

1) Hurt Locker
2) It All Returns to Nothing
3) Pyramid Head
4) Struggle Session
5) Pillar of Shame
6) Trinity
7) Prometheus Reborn
8) EF5
9) The Long March
10) An Affirming Flame
11) Waco Horror

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