Buried Above Grove are my boys. I’ve seen them too many times to count and love all four members with all of my heart. That being said, I’ve never been one to play favorites or not tell it like it is. Some of their shows that I’ve covered have been brilliant and others not so much. I’ll never forget the time that I covered one of their shows at The Skyway Theatre where singer Eric McMahon slipped off the stage, cut his head open and wound up getting his head stapled. That night wasn’t a good night in their world and it was heart breaking to have to write the truth and say that the entire night was off and I wasn’t impressed by their set. Even though I didn’t give them a good review, they have stayed some of my best friends and biggest supporters when it comes to this blog.
I was honestly nervous when guitarist DJ Gunnarson brought me their new album to review. I knew he wanted an honest, non-sugar coated review like I always give them but it seemed like so much pressure. I’ve seen how much work went into this album and know how much heart and soul is in it from all of the members. What if I listened and didn’t like it? What if it was just noise to me and I had nothing nice to say about it? The fact that they willingly gave me this album to review and wanted my opinion said everything about the integrity of this band. They wanted to know the truth and were ready for it. Well boys, here it is, here’s what I think of your new album.
‘The Crown’ wastes no time jumping into the brutality that Buried Above Ground has become known for. For the first few seconds of ‘The Crown’ there’s the sound of eerie ambient noise but it’s instantly replaced with the sinister vocals of Eric McMahon and the slaughtering sound of drums and guitar that is so distinctively Buried Above Ground. The dark lyrics of the opening track set the scene perfectly for what’s to come on this six song album. As the first nearly four minutes of the CD winds down, you are left with an outro that seems to take the first few second of the album and evolve it into something much more energetic with a dark undertone to it.
‘Doomed To Drown’ starts with a couple more second of dark ambiance before taking off into the beautiful onslaught of metal music that you would expect from such a heavy hitting band. With a little bit longer before vocals come in, you’re given some time to really listen to the musicianship of this band with the perfect guitar tone courtesy of DJ Gunnarson, the dark bass tone coming from Coz, and deliberate drum hits courtesy of Sam “Digg” Flach. About two minutes into this song, there’s a break that shines the spotlight on some of the creepiest keyboard sounds I’ve ever heard above a brutal breakdown. It’s one of those moments in a song when you can envision a music video in the making what with a broken down upright piano being killed by a serial killer– or something like that. Whatever you envision, the fact that such a small line of notes can make you picture something is part of the genius of this band. Again, the song ends with an ambient like sound that almost acts as a processing moment. As the music calms, you are left with a sense of exhaustion from the beating your ears just took (and I mean that in the best way possible).
The creepy keyboard sound remains prominent through the beginning of track three, ‘Dig Your Grave’. Out of all of the songs on this album, ‘Dig Your Grave’ has some of my favorite lyrics. Although sinister and dark, I love the way the lyrics can be interpreted differently by everyone. Sure, on the surface the lyrics depict the story of trying to get out of a casket that you have been buried alive in but just take a minute and think about that. How many caskets are you buried in? What about your day job? Do you truly love being their every day or does it feel like there is more dirt thrown on you day after day by that boss you hate? What about your current relationship? Do you feel like your being drowned or buried by your partner and you are desperately searching for a way out? Sure, this song seems to be purely about physically being buried alive but it’s so much more if you want it to be and if you take the time to think about it. The intensity of the song with the multiple breaks throughout gives you a feel of gasping for air. With each break in the bombardment of heavy instrumentation, it’s hard not to imagine someone gasping for their last breaths before finally giving up. There’s a true artistry to this song which has it as my top track of this album.
Things seem to slow down for ‘You Bleed So Beautiful’. The intro is longer than the previous songs and more spacey. Eric’s vocals come in prior to the signature loud guitars and heavy drum hits giving the listener a chance to appreciate this guy’s voice. It’s a heavy, deep, growl that seems to be made for this type of music but there’s also a sense of delicacy to it. No note is held longer than it should be and there are no words that don’t belong. Although this stays true throughout the entire album, at times it’s hard to focus on that aspect as you are being assaulted by all of the instrumentation going on. As the song kicks into full gear, it definitely stays in the vein of the previous songs. This is the first song that showcases a piece of guitar work on it’s own. DJ Gunnarson only has a few seconds to fit the guitar solo in but, like the vocal work, every note is placed with precision and instead of seeing how many notes he can fit into the opening, he plays what fits with the music and continues the story that the lyrics in ‘You Bleed So Beautiful’ tells.
‘Sineater’ wastes no time jumping into a heavy hitting track. Whereas the previous songs command you to bob your head along to the beat and headbang a bit, this song effortlessly makes you want to tip your desk over and open up your own pit. Out of the six songs on the album, this is the one I want to live the most. I can already see the parts where people can be spotted on the edges of a pit with their hands on their knees trying to catch their breaths and the parts where everyone on the edges of the pit has arms up trying to prevent the flying limbs from hitting them in the face. There’s an energy about this song that just can’t be put into words. It’s honestly rare to find a song that can set a whole visual up for you in just about three minutes Although ‘Dig Your Grave’ is definitely my favorite song on the album, ‘Sineater’ was a very, very, very close second.
The last track of the album starts with that creepy piano sound again only this time it’s joined in by some strings. The sudden appearance of drums and crashing cymbals almost gives the intro to this song an orchestral feel that has yet to be seen on this album. It doesn’t take long for the breakdown in ‘March to the Gallows’ to hit. There are new elements introduced in this song that I honestly wish had been put throughout the album. There are points with almost mechanical sounding guitars and then a sound that almost sounds like a haunted choir in the background. Everything about the instrumentation in this song is creepy and when you add the broken keyboard sound it just get creepier. The last few seconds of this closing song is a faint whisper or creepy laugh (I honestly can’t tell) but whatever it is, it gives you chills. I kept on waiting for another track to kick in but that track never came. Maybe that’s part of the genius of this album because as soon as I was left with silence in my apartment, I went back to the beginning of the album and started the voyage all over again.
Okay, maybe Buried Above Ground wins some brownie points for putting me in the liner notes under “people we would like to thank” but regardless of my personal connection to this band, there’s no way to deny that this album is great. With a couple of major tours coming up and this album being released in just a couple of weeks, it’s easy for me to say that these guys are no longer going to be considered just a local band. They are making waves in the metal scene and, as much as I’ll miss seeing all of the members around at local metal shows, I’m so fucking proud of them. No other way to word it– just so fucking proud.
My Favorite Track: ‘Dig Your Grave’
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 9.8 out of 10
At Home Moshability: 9 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It- Artemis laid on the couch covering his ears; Autumn hid under my bed in the other room
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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