You know, the joy of finding a new favorite band out of the blue is a feeling that can’t be replicated by much else. Unmatched, even. The invigoration of connecting with new music, finding meaning in it all, intended or otherwise, and just jamming the fuck out is a unique thing we love highlighting here at Everything Is Noise. Along with reviews and premieres, we also have this lovely Weekly Featured Artist feature through which our most elated writers – me obviously included – can act out their passion for new, mostly underground work.

That’s exactly the sort of process that happened when I heard Burner from London, a newer sign to Church Road Records and one that’s bolstering their death grip on the indie heavy music scene, particularly in the UK. I first heard their EP A Vision Of The End on its release date of June 17 this year. Their non-committal mixture of hardcore, death metal, and a dash of thrash elicited two reactions from me: ‘holy fuck‘ and ‘I gotta talk to these people‘. For the latter, vocalist Harry Nott and guitarist Nathan Harlow were happy to oblige, for which I thank them immensely.

From name alone, Burner leaves an impression. It’s fierce, telling, and reflective of our world today which, depending on who you ask, is already burning or key parts of it are in need of a cleansing burn. Add the music to the equation and not only do the band make good on their name, but it’s all kicked up a notch in intensity because of it. Burner is also my favorite slang word for a gun, at least over here in the US, but I guess that’s neither here or there.

For the band, the name was a simple, unanimous choice. Says Nathan, ‘There actually isn’t that much to it, I was listening to “Crossburner by The Dillinger Escape Plan, it’s one of my favourite songs of theirs and thought it would make a cool band name, but didn’t want to use the whole thing, so shortened it to just Burner.’ This is a common theme in some band names, especially in the heavy music scene – names taken from the lyrics or title of songs from others not only to fit this new band aesthetically, but perhaps pay homage. Nathan details further, saying it was the only name suggestion among them and everyone liked it, commenting on its fitting nature as well – ‘We only had one or two songs written at that point but the name ended up suiting the music perfectly.’ Harry adds, ‘Yeah, and it gives us a monopoly on the fire emoji, so there’s that too.🔥’

One thing you’ll surely notice with Burner upfront is that they truly have a fiery spirit about them. The EP I mentioned earlier is their only release so far, but already they carry themselves with a learned demeanor, far from the freshman woes of a band still searching for identity and a lane in which to occupy. You might be surprised to hear the process by which A Vision Of The End came together was an organic, relatively speedy one.

Nathan: ‘It all came together quite naturally really. We didn’t set out with anything too specific in mind, these are quite simply the first six songs we’ve written as a band. “Nothing But War” was the first song written, that was the only song on which I was trying to write with a particular style in mind, but once that was set in stone, everything else came fairly quickly and organically. Most songs are demoed at home by myself, then I’ll bring the ideas into the practice space and we’ll flesh everything out as a band, that’s where the really good stuff comes out. Songs like “Death Worship”, “Ingsoc”, and the title track, “A Vision Of The End” really benefited from us all being in a room and throwing ideas around. You can write pretty good tunes at home but it’s that extra 20% that comes from jamming ideas, with everyone throwing their chops into the pot, that’s what really gives a band their unique sound, and I think that’s been incredibly important for us in finding our voice!’

Harry: ‘Yeah, thematically I tied a lot of the songs together with similar ideas, but it wasn’t really apparent to me until about halfway through the process of getting them all down – I didn’t really enter them with a solid idea of what they were going to be, until we bound together into (drum roll) a vision of the end of humanity.’

If I may be so bold as to assert the following, Burner are what I’d see as a perfect candidate to sign to a respected, established label, even for a new name with no previous work released. And what better respected and established label for a band like this than Church Road Records. We’re big fans of them here at EIN, with them having established quite the name and reputation for themselves over the years, particularly in the wake of former darling label Holy Roar self-imploding because their founder allegedly was an abusive prick . I had to ask how they came across Church Road and how the process for this veritable match made in heaven (hell?) came to be.

N: Church Road were at the top of our list when it came to labels. We’re all big fans of many bands on their roster, and we’d heard nothing but great things about Justine [Jones] and Sammy [Urwin], all of which are entirely true, they’re just genuinely lovely people and super passionate about music and the bands they work with. We knew [producer] Lewis Johns was close friends with them, so that was part of the reason we chose to work with him. Of course, we’re massive fans of his production and some of the bands that he’s worked with, so that was the main reason we went to him, but we also knew the connection was there, so we set out to make that happen. We feel extremely lucky to be working with a group of incredibly talented and down to earth people!’

H: ‘I grew up listening to a lot of bands coming out on Holy Roar, which Sammy and Justine worked with, as well as bands they had been in – Oblivionized, Regurgitate Life and Employed To Serve specifically. So, to be a part of that lineage and their musical journey, in a way, is just absolutely crazy to me. Feeling very fortunate. After the tour we played recently with ETS, that connection feels even stronger.’

It all culminated in the June 17 release of A Vision Of The End, a grim journey that feels a little closer to reality than comfortable, especially lately. I haven’t reviewed it, opting to save my thoughts for this very piece, so allow me to indulge a little. Simply put, it’s one of the most ass-beating projects you could put your ears to this year so far. As alluded to before, this album seems to have no growing pains to speak of – just straight and to the point, about as subtle as a buzzsaw flung across a room.

Themes are appropriately dystopian, like with “Ingsoc”, the title and lyrics being a reference to George Orwell‘s seminal, horrendously misunderstood novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Though it can be applied to a number of political and social situations nowadays, it is specifically dedicated to the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, China, as well as the people of Hong Kong, Tibet, and Taiwan who all deal with brutal authoritarianism and state violence on a persistent basis. “Nothing But War” conjures a revenge plot against power structures and the very foundation of fascistic nations – ‘Meet your end, you fucking pigs‘ is a delightful brick-to-the-face line. The title track on the other hand paints an Anthropocene extinction the likes of which have not only been telegraphed for decades, but brought on by ourselves and only ourselves with rampant pollution, resource consumption, and greed. My fellow USA pals will find a cathartic solace in “Siege Fire” which is an incendiary minute-and-change condemnation of religious fundamentalism and extremism – you know, the prevalent forces at play when legislative decisions are made by those in power? Separation of church and state, my fucking ass.

On the EP, I don’t think there’s much optimism, certainly a lot of anger,’ states Harry. ‘Thematically, the EP is largely about climate change. These were my main concerns in a pre-COVID world (and they still are important to me now). Playing live, I introduce the title track by saying it’s about humanity, the destruction of nature and what we choose to do with the time we have here, which I think is true.’ There’s not much room for interpretation with these tracks which is a boon to Burner. They have a message, they have grievances to air, and they wish to be heard. Harry continues:

‘If anything, I want people to listen to these tracks and reflect on the messages and how they relate to them on a personal level. That’s a very ‘hardcore’ mentality, I think, but it’s an important part of making the music mean something to me. Y’know, get something to say or get the fuck off the stage. A band like Dangers or Trial introduce their sets by talking about creating the potential for change in the room, then taking that out into the world. That’s real shit, exactly where I want us and this music to be, even though it’s fairly pessimistic on the EP.’

The pessimism, though based in reality which is never pretty, is keenly felt, though so is the righteous anger on each track. This imbues the music with a lightly hopeful tone, that there’s people that see things for what they are and they are almost never in our favor, or in the favor for those most vulnerable in our societies. Furthermore, that there’s people pissed about that and seek to exact change for the betterment of people under the boots of authoritarian, fascist rule, or the degrading, oppressive processes of capitalism – complementary forces as long as we’re being honest. Harry’s right though – that is a hardcore mentality and while preaching to the choir isn’t particularly helpful, it’s my hope that this attitude can be fostered in more and more people as they discover heavy music, go to shows, see these people talking about these issues and very real problems. I mean… how do you think I got here myself? Harry digs into more specifics on this topic:

‘”Ingsoc” is a track about mass human rights abuses, which are very real and happening right now in authoritarian states across the world. Even just getting that idea across, to be contemplated, is meaningful. Ideally you’re more aware, protesting or donating to help others. On the full-length, it’s a lot more engaged with political ideas and a lot of the theming is around fighting injustice, the struggle between democracy and autocracy and, again, what we choose to do while knowing these things are going on. I think the point I do get to is ‘stand up or be a slave and die on your knees.’ It’s very existential, but that’s where all the ideas we put out ultimately come back to.’

For the music side of things, just about everything I find savory is on offer here with A Vision Of The End. Caustic grooves rooted in hardcore and thrash metal, blistering riffing and drumming from death’s realm, and a litany of other approaches and elements. There’s genuinely not a dull moment on this EP – every song is fresh and different enough to not only keep attention, but impress in meaningful ways. The title track has somber ambience, “Rat King Crown” explodes out of the gate with some of the EP’s best melodies and writing, and so much more, all on a 17-minute, six-track project that shames some bands’ full-lengths. Harry reflects a bit more on the process of making and intent of A Vision Of The End:

‘I think, for all of us, we wanted to just get the music out there. That’s so generic, but as Nathan said, a lot of the tracks just came together, specifically before and during the pandemic. We’d been sitting on some of these tracks for going on two years by the time the chance to record them rolled around, so we just wanted to make a good first impression and really smash the recording of them. We feel we’ve accomplished that, the EP sounds wicked! Everything else, honestly, has been a bonus. We’re very grateful that it caught the ear of Lewis and then Church Road, but I think that’s a testament to the fact we were working on them for so long.’

Speaking of COVID, it stands to reason that a band coming up and trying to get their name out there in the world would have a hard time. Part of bands’ repertoire in this scenario is playing shows and opening for some more established artists or packing bills with other similarly statured bands to all share the wealth of attention and fans a local scene has. COVID put that on pause at best, and at worst totally eradicated it in some more unfortunate areas where venues and music-friendly bars were forced to close, bands broke up for one reason or another, or other associated catastrophes. Burner, having formed just before COVID and made good on the isolation to forge their debut output, have fared better than most thankfully. Harry thinks back:

‘It’s been a little short of ridiculous. When we were tracking drums for the EP with Lewis (Johns), the third lockdown had just ended and we all ended up going to the studio just to get out of London for a while! Of course, the pandemic didn’t stop when we put out our first bit of music in October though – we had to skip playing the Church Road Christmas show when Hugo (our drummer) caught COVID. When we played our first show in Bristol, I started the set by saying ‘We waited two fucking years to do this! Fuck COVID!‘ and everyone was cheering. Just super good vibes. Honestly, I think that got us off to such a great start. Everything that’s happened since then has been surreal, just a lot faster and greater than we ever could have expected.’

With everything Burner does being far-reaching and collective as far as influences, it made sense to tap into what made them who they are and it made for some interesting answers.

H: ‘Speaking for myself here, but I’m always looking to vocalists I’ve grown up with and whose range and technique I really admire – Joe Horvath of Circle of Dead Children, Jonny Davy of Job For A Cowboy, Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation and Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage. Just incredible vocalists in their own right. Lyrically, I really dig the approach of bands like Dangers, Ceremony and Foundation – that hardcore, full-on tackling of issues combined with their own poetic license is super appealing to me. I work in film/television, so a lot of cinematic influence goes in too, in abstract ways from my favourite filmmakers.’

N: ‘Where to even begin! For me, bands like Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Chimaira, they all got me into heavy music from a very young age so they’ll always be a massive influence on me, but when it comes to finding inspiration for writing Burner material, bands like END, The Burning Wind, Chamber, WVRM, Baptists, Joy (RIP), Decapitated, Gatecreeper, Harms Way, Nails, etc… they’re all hugely inspiring bands. Writing music and performing songs that even come close to the energy of those bands is my main goal.’

H: ‘Yo, RIP JOY, incredible band.’

A dense, respectful repertoire for sure. But what about potential music mates? I asked Nathan and Harry what bands they’d love to do a split with:

N: Mico, for sure! They’re a sick grindy, techy death metal band from Columbia and we all love them. Their music is really similar to ours in many ways, we’ve joked amongst ourselves about doing a split with them before.’

H: Mastiff would be a big one, those guys are different to us in a lot of ways but the energy is so real. WVRM as well. Absolutely crushing bands. If I had a time machine, I’d say The Burning Wind – I doubt any band will have as significant an impact on us than their last EP. Just nuts, super intense music.’

I’m sure the sentiment is realized, but allow me to allude any potential lack of clarity. Though some people use finding a band while they’re new as a way to lord superiority over future fans because they didn’t get in on the ground floor like them, EIN has always been about doing the opposite – aggressively encouraging more people to get into the music that we think is cool. We’re not pushed or influenced by any outside forces to write about anything we don’t want to. What we like is what we like, and what we cover is what we hope to share with others. 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. Hell, we won’t even have to wait too long to wait for their next move. Harry goes over some plans for the immediate future, pandemics and other catastrophes willing of course:

This year is dedicated mostly to getting our name out there and, most importantly, getting the full-length recorded. That’s what we’re putting all of our time into now, making sure it’s exactly what we want it to be. Next year, we’ve got some big opportunities coming up, particularly thanks to the connections we’ve made since the start of this year, but we’re just going to be patient, wait and see. That’s one benefit of making music in a pandemic, you learn patience.

I know I’m sure as hell looking forward to that and more. I’d like to thank Harry and Nathan for taking the time and expending the valuable effort to speak to me about their work, and the other Burner members, Hugo (drums) and Finn (bass), for completing the set and being as monstrous as they are in the rhythm section. As is customary, some final words and shoutouts from Nathan and Harry:

H:Listen to Acid Throne, Zetra, Mastiff, Perdisian and Serling. Watch Neon Genesis Evangelion. Support the Armed Forces and people of Ukraine. Слава Україні!’

N:Shout out to Candescent A.D too, we’re touring with them in August and couldn’t be more excited. Also big up our pals in Lesser, Grief Ritual and Bruiser, the sickest bands and great people!’

Burner are…

Harry Nott – vocals
Nathan Harlow – guitar
Hugo Bénezech  – drums
Finn Gannon – bass

If you’re a ‘I heard of them first’ kind of guy (please don’t), then you’d do best to follow Burner on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while you can. Check out their Bandcamp page to listen to A Vision Of The End in full and assuredly be apprised of future releases!

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

I use caps lock way more than my writing lets on.

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