Burial Vault – Incendium

by Brett Stevens
May 11, 2013 –

burial_vault-incendiumMaking melodic death metal proves more difficult than it might seem at first. The constant use of any technique brings new challenges in how to keep it from being overwhelming. And when that technique makes everything sound “good,” the tendency is reduce music to a wash of harmony which then loses all features.

Burial Vault attack this style with a radical idea: riffs should fit together instead of dramatically constrasting each other every time. Incendium does not make the listener feel like the center of attention as much as your average modern metal band, but by fitting together the circuitry of riffs into clear pathways, it creates an aesthetic appeal and a sense of balance. Like some of the best melodic death metal from the last generation, it washes over the listener like a tangible form of light, and immerses them in the mood of anticipating a wash of beauty. Guitar fireworks glisten in each one of these well-crafted but deliberately honed down and almost mnemonic riffs.

Compared to its peers in the melodic metal world, Incendium sounds less polished but more constructed and as a result is easier to distinguish from the background hum of popular metal. Most “melodic death metal” at this point is essentially a grab-bag of Halloween candy riffs, mixing the horror movie “Monster Coming Down the Stairs” riffs with Iron Maiden styled galloping riffs and glistening, Dissection-inspired riffs reminiscent of transcendence in darkness. It is less so here; these are riffs which fit together in a slightly blocky construction, but give you an idea of where they’re going.

If anything, Burial Vault need to concentrate on style. It experiments with clean vocals, power metal, hard rock, death metal and alternative rock. The “yelling until I’m out of breath” style beat-leading metalcorish vocals don’t fit with the rest, which could use a stronger and honestly more emotional vocal delivery; the metalcore style only does one emotion, and it’s probably an emotion felt by nothing but automatic coffee dispenser machines. It needs to find its own voice. In the meantime, Incendium gives a clearer vision of how melodic death metal riffs can be more than isolated, vanishing moments of beauty in a sea of chaos.

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6 comments

  • bitterman

    This doesn’t sound too bad as far as recent music is concerned. The riffs themselves are developed tastefully, but there’s no real cohesion between any of them. They could benefit from some Karl Willetts style vocals and getting rid of the chugga-chugga into harmonies parts to make the melodies flow seamlessly (as opposed to being carried in the middle of rhythmic “chugs”). This band has the potential to be a more developed death metal version of the second Sacramentum album if they get rid of the problems mentioned in the article. Let’s see if they follow through.

  • Tralf

    Agreed with Bitterman. The posted song is gallop/chug filler riffs barely held together by a really cool main theme. More themes and less rhythmic filler would make for a richer listening experience.

    True melodic metal never really progressed further than the early albums by AtG, Sacramentum, and Sentenced as it was co-opted by Gaythenburg Maiden-with-harsh-vocals bands as well as uninspired 4-bar-tremolo-riff melodic black metal. Here’s hoping this band pushes the envelope of this woefully underdeveloped subgenere with subsequent releases.

    1. Tralf

      Also, kudos to them for using Fahrenheit 451 as lyrical subject matter. Metal needs more literary-inspired songs.

      I’d love to hear a Frankenstein-themed metal song that actually does the book justice.

      1. Westgrove

        One wonders if a book like Frankenstein, so closely linked to the Christian moral tale, could be done justice by Metal.