The stream of new albums has turned into a raging flood here at Metal Abyss HQ, meaning that if we don't start getting some of these previews and reviews out to you soon we're apt to drown in metallic bliss. There are crappier ways to go, come to think of it. After spending several days cranking the new Voidthrone record 'Kur,' I recently hit play on an advance copy of 'Creatio et Hominus', the sophomore LP from Mt. Carmel, PA's Burial in the Sky. The LP, their first since 2016's 'Persistence of Thought,' drops on June 1st, and frankly I'm sorry that you have to wait that long to hear it. It's not enough to say that 'Creatio' is a great listening experience, or that I think this album beautifully blurs the lines between the atmospheric, the progressive and even the psychedelic; on 'Creatio et Hominus', Burial in the Sky have legitimately moved the needle and are showing us what truly progressive death metal is capable of. Beginning with the sounds of pouring rain, a simple omnipresent synth and Zach Strouse's saxophone that's straight out of a film noir whodunit (and the most recent Rivers of Nihil album), Burial immediately signal to the listener that 'Creatio' will be anything but your standard death metal fare. What follows are six more tracks that are each their own compelling, complex reason to embrace music that eschews standard song structures and embraces the limitless potential of extreme metal. Nothing here is wasteful and, perhaps even more importantly, though the album features nothing but top-shelf playing, there's not even a hint of needless noodling. When James Tomedi's guitar alternates between laser-precise leads and Captain Crunch riffs on 'Nautilus' Cage'; or when Sam Stewart's skin and cymbal pounding and Strouse's fat string fingering are at their most mind-bending on 'Psalms of the Deviant', it all feels completely necessary- as if the song demanded and was given exactly the right amount of technicality, and nothing more.
And the transitions between those frenetic passages and their subdued counterparts could not be better executed. Abrupt, absurd stylistic changes within a song often destroy a musical narrative. Not so here as even a track like 'The Pivotal Flame', which ascends and descends time and again through passages of blackened death metal rage and ambient, psychedelic bliss does so with an ease that approaches grace. The seemingly disparate exist harmoniously a scant few measures apart on 'Creatio'. It should not be possible, and yet here this is. If you twist my arm and force me to pick a favorite track, it's going to be '5 Years'. What sounds like 300 keys being played on a swelling pipe organ is overtaken by proper death metal mayhem. Jorel Hart's full-throat growl is used to great effect here as Tomedi's expressive riffs and leads act as a second voice throughout. You may as well call the solo that then yields to the closing riff technical death blues, it's that emotionally evocative. And so while I promised the editor that I wouldn't fawn all over this album, I've failed miserably. Par for the course, but 'Creatio et Hominus' truly is worthy of the praise. On this record, Burial in the Sky have dared to carve not only a path of their own in the increasingly populated field of progressive/technical death metal, they've pointed to a brave new world of extreme metal in which the number of notes you play in a measure is inconsequential to where the notes actually take you. Each track on 'Creatio' is its own brief journey, each one is worth taking, and the collective whole is an album that you miss to your own detriment. Not convinced? No worries, check out the official video for 'The Pivotal Flame' below. Need more convincing? 3 of the 7 tracks from 'Creatio' are available on Burial's Bandcamp page. You can also keep up with the band (well, at least their social media posts) via their Facebook page. Facebook is also an awesome place to harass us as well. We'd love to hear what you think of this and any other album I make pseudo-journalistic love to. Rage on! JPR