Soooooooooooo, almost a full year ago, I had the esteemed pleasure of talking to (half of) the dudes in Burner for our Weekly Featured Artist piece. In it, I said – among many, many other things – ‘It’s with that personal attitude and overarching mission of our site that I submit unto all you readers that Burner are ones to watch. These guys are passionate, appreciative, and purposeful, three qualities that will take them farther than most, so don’t be surprised if you see them on next because it very well could happen.’ Even closer to a full year ago (two days from now is the anniversary), the UK metallers dropped their EP, A Vision Of The End, the piece of work that compelled me to talk to them in the first place.
Now we are beset with their first LP, It All Returns to Nothing, and let me tell you, I could not have been more correct in my assessment of the band. 11 tracks, a few moments beyond a half-hour, and I’m sold Burner belong in the same conversations as other great UK bands doing great, new things with metal and hardcore like Ithaca and Wallowing. What to call it? Well, ‘deathcore’ is already taken and does not apply here, so I guess ‘hardmetal’ or something… we’ll workshop it. They straddle genres like they’re trying to mount a Clydesdale horse – rip-roaring, punky drums that give way to thrashy rhythms; glee-inducing riffing that seems influenced by Gothenburg melodeath and hardcore’s catchiest corners all at once.
Because of this coyly eclectic mix, I feel like a teen again listening to their stuff – that’s when I was getting into bands like Dark Tranquillity – but I also feel like I’m on the precipice of something new, something futuristic, however dystopian it may be. I’ll level with you: what Burner do isn’t so much innovative or experimental, but it is absolutely precise, blood-pumping, and teeth-gritting. A wheel isn’t being reinvented here as much as it is being surgically honed to run your ass over better. Hope you don’t mind a tire track down your spine because that’s exactly the kind of thing you’re in for with songs like “Hurt Locker”, a single that’s primed for the explosive album opening it provides. Fast, finger-contorting riffs that still sound coherent and fun are all over this thing. The vocals and lyrics make me froth up in shared rage; my favorites are, ‘Slit the throats of tyrants and the kings/Fulfil my dream of liberty/Until my ideals retreat/And our history repeats‘.
The title track is a blasting force of hell, caked in ash as the band really give it their all. Each song is so fucking locomotive, never stopping, never letting up, and they get away with it by making every moment palatable. I don’t get fatigue from taking It All Returns to Nothing in or even looping it over and over even though there’s hardly ever a reprieve from the dense action (there is the interlude “Trinity” that divides the album’s halves, but its 1:19 length is barely enough time to take a piss and it carries a foreboding mood anyway). “Pyramid Head” (shout out to Silent Hill 2?) is hardcore powered on uranium or some shit. While the guitar tones smack of agile death metal, the riffs and movements themselves feel very punky and dangerous, like uncovered furniture corners and you’re a soft-headed newborn baby. I adore the passage toward the end where a deep melody is used while the drums maneuver all around it in a fierce manner. Speaking of, I absolutely love the drums in “The Long March”, but you know what I love even more? The guitars in the midsection. It houses one of the best riffs I’ve heard all year – just slamming goodness all around, goddamn.
Burner are just wildly adept at what they do, and I don’t know how they did it in such short time. They really hunkered down last year and wrote some awesome material. If they can pull something like this off with every project, this budding band stands a very high chance of placing in the annals of modern metal. Consistency is key – it’s why bands like Revocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, and Horrendous are so revered. No pressure, but something tells me they’ll have no problem keeping fresh and fun for years to come. Hell, they already achieved that here with many songs, not the least of which is an impressive seven-plus-minute long nuke of a song called “An Affirming Flame” that feels totally justified.
It All Returns to Nothing really paradoxically speaks into existence a bright future for Burner. Where their music toils and ruminates in abject destruction and dissolution of society at large, it’s fuel for their success. I can see them really fucking the game up in big ways once they get more well-deserved recognition so to echo my WFA on them, I implore, demand, and politely ask that you take note of what I’m already calling one of the coolest, hardest, catchiest heavy bands out of England right now. You have nothing to lose but your spinal integrity!