ALBUM REVIEW: Burial – Satanic Upheaval

Mancunian trio Burial stand out for more reasons than the impressive collective build of its members: its particular brand of Blackened Death has ensured that the band maintained a popularity within its locale and beyond. Their third album Satanic Upheaval (Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings) is its first outing in four years and is just as uncompromising in its approach.

The great skill the guys possess is the ability to seamlessly switch from a more blackened sound to a heavier, brutal side. Opener ‘Encircled By Wolves’ sees Rick Barraclough‘s guitars come out with a throaty roar before alternating with cascading obsidian riffs, allowing both to tell the story with equal import to that of Derek Carley‘s rasping vocal. There’s no little hostility, but this is blended with a mournful edge as with the ensuing ‘Void Of Decay’: Barraclough’s lead work allowing for a certain humanity to breathe through the track. Dave Buchan‘s drums tear through the canvas, with particular vigour in the more bruising ‘Hellish Reaping Screams’, yet switch the pace on a sixpence and to tremendous effect at the battering coda.

It’s when the two styles are fused that the band is really in its element. The rampant ‘Beneath The Filth’ sees more of those veering guitars duel with a breakneck pace and give a frosted melody to the pummelling might. Similarly it would be simple to let ‘Destruction Absolute’ do just that but, despite the occasional descent into bludgeon and the message of Be’elzebub rejoicing in our deaths, there remains a sinister subtlety to the music which is exemplified in the tense rebuild from the mid-section. ‘Decayed By Time’ has a curious feel to its quieter passages, the guitar seeming to imitate the ticking of an eerie clock, but again this duels so effectively with the rapid blasts of energy that the whole tells a rather lonely, wistful yet irresistible tale.

With the exception of a Doom-laden mid-sector ‘Barren Lands’ careers along at a spectacular pace and with all the ice of the frozen tundra: while ‘Devour Your Soul’ focuses on a Death-flavoured ferocity, its no-nonsense battery appealing to all. The magic of Burial really does lie, however, in those tempo and melody changes, such as during the brooding title track and often triumphal closer ‘Cursed By The Light’. Despite its overtly nefarious nature there’s a real maturity and sense of tradition about Satanic Upheaval which allows the listener to embrace both the melancholy and euphoria, and it’s this quality that proves Burial’s coming of age.

7 / 10