After the last few years of false starts and other covid related shenanigans the Manchester Metal 2 the Masses is once again underway. You probably know the drill, across the UK and slightly further afield, there are competitions held by Bloodstock festival. Unsigned bands compete in a battle of the bands format across the regions, and the winners get to play on the New Blood stage at the festival itself.
The first thing to say about Germany’s Burning Down Alaska and their debut release Values and Virtues (Redfield) is that this feels much more like an album than an EP. Coming in at 9 tracks (7 songs actual) and displaying a progression from the build of, um, ‘Intro’ (one of the few short tracks that commence an album that actually enhance and do the job of leading you into the first track while setting the scene of the music that will follow), through the utilisation of a thoughtful album dynamic, to the closing anthemic ‘Trophies’ with its hollered chorus over a hooky lead.
The second is that this is a mature and very well put together proposition for a debut, particularly one in the modern/post-‘core field (can we not come up with a genre tag without the word “core” inappropriately tagged on the end of something?). No generic breakdown chugs for the sake of it, where matters do “break down”, such as on first song proper ‘Brighter Days’ it is to a slower expansive, reflective music piece, that led by the throat of Tobias Rische is used to provide contrast to the next section, where a gang shout brings the song back to tempo.
Credit is due to the musicianship on display, as littered throughout are careful and clever melodic quasi-clean, quasi-lead based guitars, multi-layered and excellently composed, with Marvin Bruckwilder and Dario Sanchez complimenting and interweaving with each other perfectly, with a reflective almost gothic quality on the ‘Reality & Fiction’, a track that belies the stage of development this band should be in.
In terms of comparisons, Burning Down Alaska have jumped straight to the more progressive, grown up and developed point of their career, pitching in the Sempiternal (Bring Me The Horizon – RCA) or Daybreaker (Architects – Century Media) ballpark, fully developed and ready to stand their ground at that level. ‘Savior’ introduces female vocals to the mix to brooding effect, and proves, along with the excellent melodic hardcore anthem ‘Phantoms’, that this Recklinghausen quintet have the depth, gravitas and vision to really make a mark in the modern field of heavy music.
An excellent first impression.
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