We’re nearing the end of another year and no doubt we’re all scrabbling together our now mandatory album of the year lists, all the while agonizing over those handful of records that we leave out or forget, to showcase our personal highlights and the standouts that will be used in future years as a signifier for the high quality of music 2018 has bestowed upon us.
When discussing standouts, particularly here in the UK, Holy Roar have been one of the most talked about record labels this year with a slew of albums all of a consistently high quality, and with the news of their showcase taking place at next year’s Roadburn Festival, it seems the world is finally taking notice. This reliability isn’t uncommon for Holy Roar, as the label prides itself on seeking out the most interesting bands heavy music has to offer, and on this occasion, we have Burning Vow – a mysterious entity that is here to drop pure wizard riffs on us, and may never be heard from again.
While the individuals themselves remain anonymous, we know that they consist of members of some of the UK’s best past and present metal bands – namely Employed to Serve, Pariso, Group of Man and Harrowed. Burning Vow stands drastically apart from all of these bands, content to walk its own Doom-soaked trudge through the mire whilst churning out every kind of Stoner riff you’ve ever heard.
From the opening notes of ‘Apathy and Acceptance’, you get an immediate idea of the kind of trip you’re in for as this sickeningly catch riff that would make Crowbar blush stomps in, but fans of Pallbearer and similar forms of misery will find some appeal in the mournful croon of the vocals.
‘Walls Around The Earth’ has this cool, detached delivery to it, reminiscent of the more slow-burning Alice In Chains material and other alt.rock acts. This trend continues and bleeds into ‘Alpha.Omega.Erasure’ with hazy solos that capture a more psychedelic mood than the sheer brute force of the first few tracks. It’s more measured and even though it’s only five minutes it feels like a long time before the weight of the central riff comes crashing back in and some Ozzy-esque vocals carry the track home. ‘The Advocate’ brings this brief record to its end in suitably doomy fashion with a punishingly slow retread of more interesting ideas that have come before it. It doesn’t sour the experience, but the drawn-out repetitive nature of the track doesn’t add much more than time to a record that previously benefited from the brevity of its sluggish approach.
Regardless, Holy Roar Records and their entire roster are closing out the year on a high, and if experiments like Burning Vow are the first of many stopgaps between more established releases, it’s further proof of the label’s passion to bring us all the heaviest music possible. This is a record for heavy music fans by heavy music fans, and I don’t see them slowing down as we head into 2019.
6 / 10