ARTIST: BURNING VOW

TITLE: BURNING VOW

LABEL: HOLY ROAR RECORDS

RATING: 8/10 

WORDS: KEVIN FLINN

Burning Vow is a callback to a previous era. Where nostalgia is the name of the game in almost every aspect of life these days, Burning Vow’s unique approach to their reminiscent sound permeate throughout, leaving a lasting impression from start to finish. Limited only in number of tracks, almost every song coasts over a 5 minute threshold, with the closing track running over 8 minutes. A callback to early grunge and classic metal groups, Burning Vow’s debut self-titled feature is a notable effort from this London quintet.

The opening track, the aforementioned ‘Apathy and Acceptance’, opens with an in- your-face riff that would make Alice In Chains jealous. A simple rock drum groove pushes the rhythm along but the two heavily distorted guitars are the stars here, at least until the vocals are introduced. With a voice that calls back to early metal singers like Ozzy Osbourne or Bruce Dickerson, the listener is immediately struck with the range and intensity of Burning Vow’s vocalist. The title track acts as more than a solid metal tune though, representing what this band is about and giving a taste of what’s to come.

There’s a lot to like about Burning Vow. They so easily meld genres and styles together, both new and old, and take their prior experiences as musicians to craft an appeasing collection. The nostalgia factor isn’t just limited to their song styling though. The studio mix acts as a huge influence in their sound. Sweltering crunch guitars? Check. A deep cutting bass? Yep. Heart pounding drums? Duh. But where their sound really shines is in the mix quality. Foregoing a more polished alternative, Burning Vow sticks with a raw, no frills recording, sometimes relying a bit too much on reverb for the vocals.

“A callback to early grunge and classic metal groups, Burning Vow’s debut self-titled feature is a notable effort from this London quintet.”

Within each song is a journey, as cliche as that might sound. No doubt contributing to the length of each song, every track (maybe excluding the opener) foregoes the typical A-B-A-B-C-B format that we see in almost all music. Instead, Burning Vow takes an individual approach to their song writing, crafting every track with a self-aware and introspective mentality but never forgetting the bigger picture. The instrumentation cleverly plays with the vocals, trading between themes and ideas in their own way. A prime example of this is around the 2-3 minute mark of the final track ‘The Advocate’, where the vocal intensity grows and develops while the instrumentation toys around with this theme. Eventually both climax into an impactful resolution, with the vocals leading into a heavy guitar riff that dares anyone not to head bang along.

Any fan of 90’s grunge and 70’s-80’s metal will find something to enjoy about this record. The guitars contain that satisfying crunch and sense of foreboding that metalheads love. The drums and bass cut deep, especially during the pure instrumental sections of any given song. And while those previously mentioned supporters will no doubt enjoy this, there’s an argument to be made that fans of alternative rock can find something to appreciate, with some of the hardcore segments taking a back seat in favor of elements of alt-rock ideas taking precedent. It would be a welcome addition to see a bit more of this taking place, if only to spice things up a bit.

There’s no doubt that Burning Vow’s debut record takes everything the members have learned from their previous endeavors, much to their benefit. And while some of the effects on the vocals could have been tamed and a bit more experimentation of the genre melding would have been welcome, “Burning Vow” uses the nostalgia factor of the band’s sound superbly while also adding something fresh to the genre. Though the track listing is short and the songs long, the record never overstays its welcome. Before you know it, the final note rings out and you’re left wanting more. Be sure to keep this group on your radar.

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