If you couldn't tell by my choices of album reviews lately, I don't listen to a whole lot of heavy music anymore. It's not that I've outgrown the style -- I still listen to and enjoy any punk or hardcore record I did two years ago -- but so few new bands warrant a listen anymore and so few new records from the bands I did like pan out.
And then it happened.
I heard one chord -- just one chord, of "I," the first track on Buried Inside's Spoils of Failure, and it all came rushing back. The same tense, ominous feeling I always got from listening to Chronoclast, the same unsettled, nervous aura completely overwhelmed me. Before I could brace myself, Ottawa's angriest sons had thrown down the gamut.
You never know quite when Buried Inside is going to unleash a torrent of rage, just that they will. That inevitability came to fruition less than a minute into the album when Nick Shaw's guttural exclamations started to guide the sludgy instrumentation along. The drums are the only constant; a hard thump on the bass drum and rolls on the tom. The riffs peak and valley with a perfect mix of melody and power. As with Shaw's vocal entrance, however, things never stay routine for long.
Mammoth riffs cascade in and out as Shaw stretches to the bowels of his lungs, and it's only the beginning. Guitarists Andrew Tweedy and Emmanuel Sayer trade riffs as drummer Mike Godbout backdrops it all with punishment and precision. One song in and it's already Buried Inside at its best -- the ability to pull serenity out of a cataclysmic musical display. The louder, the more frantic things sound, the more in tune with each other the band members actually are.
"II" picks up where "I" let off and hits the ground running. Quick, chugging riffs give way to mesmerizing chord progressions and Shaw's relentless screams; the drums are the backbone of the assault as it slowly heightens. Shaw's quick bursts are punctuated by swirling, melodic progressions, and just when it sounds like the track is peaking, they find another gear. The speed of the riffs increases, the force of the drumming increases, and Shaw reaches even further down his throat to unleash an ungodly cadence that propels the song into the stratosphere. While that level of exertion may tire some bands out, it only seems to fuel this five-piece.
Clocking in at over 11 minutes, "III" is the longest song the band has recorded to date, and the most unpredictable, too. Spurts of primal rage punctuate long, spellbinding instrumental passages and it's never quite safe to assume the band is losing steam. After every lull, Shaw brings Buried Inside right back into the throes of unbelievable anger, a visceral rage compounded by every thump on the bass drum and every towering riff. What truly makes this band special, though, isn't just their crafting of anger and rage into a crushing and dynamic sound as fluid as it is relentless -- it's that the band can match that power with a cerebral approach not often seen in the heavier side of music.
Spoils isn't one unified, thematic effort like Chronoclast was, but the metaphorical presentation of the band's ideas is nothing if not impressive. "V" sees Buried Inside settle into a very tight groove while expounding on the idea that people as a whole are far too quick to believe what they've been told and follow a routine cast for them.
Regulations with the shelf life of milk and rye, and formal charges that of cut flowers / Argued into obsolescence, interests valorized, benefits conferred / The race to the bottom yields avenues of success, but the race to the bottom is not without redress / The hounds will be along soon, one last goodbye to the spoils of failure / One last goodbye to the stock rewards. Here they come."Four long years in the making, Spoils of Failure may not supercede the brilliance of Chronoclast, but it further establishes Buried Inside as the thinking man's metal band. The band that questions the most with amps turned to 11. The band with the highest peaks and the lowest valleys. The band that makes every other group that makes heavy music question why they're even trying.