Article by: Matthew Booth
One thing I should say upfront is that I don’t often listen to metal-core. I find that I have trouble latching on to the more subtle musical ideas, for the apocalyptic gain- and doom-laden guitars prove to be enough to overwhelm the fearful ears studying jazz has afforded me.
That said, I listened to this album from start to finish, and never once even considered reaching for the stop button. In fact, I found myself more often than not raising the volume to levels that would probably have gotten me in some trouble had my apartment complex not been empty for the summer. This is the kind of album you want to listen to really loud.
Firstly, the production. Even on laptop speakers (unfortunately, the listening medium of choice these days) the polish of the recordings shines through. The drums are crisp and powerful, the guitars are idiomatically heavy and thick, and the vocals cut through without being overbearing. The rest of the mix fills in the sonic background with a bracing certainty. On better speakers or headphones, it becomes clear that (as with any heavily textured genre of music), great care was taken to make sure none of the different components got in the way of each other – hats off to the producer. When auxiliary instruments are used (strings, pianos, synths), they are done so very tastefully and certainly serve the music.
The tracks are all very cleverly put together – one complaint I frequently have about heavy metal and all of its offshoots is something of a negligence of keeping the texture of the music fresh. I find that it’s easy to find yourself being constantly being bombarded by a monochrome wall of sound listening to other music like this. This does not apply to Vultures Above, Lions Below – in fact, many of the compositions are so subtle they remind me of techno and house songs, where the energy of the song is built up very gradually, and with so much subtlety that you don’t even notice it and suddenly find yourself amidst a forest of sound. The music from this album had a habit of surprising me, be it with dissonant, left-handed guitar hooks, rhythmic displacements and hypermeter trickery, or those auxiliary sounds I mentioned earlier dropping in just as they’re needed, and then stepping back outside before you even notice what they’ve done. In particular, one of the guitar parts in “Dig Me Out” so underhandedly dances between the major and minor tonality over top of a blitz of a breakdown that at first I thought I was hearing things. No joke.
Thirdly, the performance. Songs can be as beautifully written as you like, but if they’re not performed properly, they’re as dead as a doornail. Thankfully, there’s no lack of performance talent in Buried In Verona. I am impressed that a group that has just had a drastic lineup change sounds so cohesive. Every instrument sounds like it understands its role in the group, and the result is a very well-balanced performance. As mentioned before, the lyrics reflect subject matter close to the hearts of the band, and the passion, the hurt, and the anger in all of those matters shows very clearly.
In summary, this album has taken a complete newbie to the genre (yours truly), and kept him not just entertained, but engaged for the better part of an hour. After listening through this album, I decided to look into Buried In Verona’s back catalogue – this album certainly comes across as some of the highest-energy, most passionate, and best polished of the work they’ve done. Many artists spend their careers finding the cleverest ways to obscure the meaning of their songs. Not Buried In Verona. Vultures Above, Lions Below is the result of what happens when you put a metalcore band’s backs up against the wall: no-punches-pulled, full-fat, diesel-powered music.
Vultures Above, Lions Below Track Listing:
1. Vultures Above
3. Dig Me Out
6. Can’t Be Unsaid
8. Done For Good
11. Bring Me Home
12. Lions Below
Pre-Order Vultures Above, Lions Below on iTunes HERE.