Artist: Buried Realm
Album Title: Buried Realm
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 3 June 2022
“…‘Embodiment Of The Divine’ is a great record, deservedly raising the stock of the talented Josh Dummer and Buried Realm ever higher. This is one of the best melodic death metal albums I have heard this year, just as the debut was back in 2017. By anyone’s standards, that’s an impressive run of form, one which I hope continues with album number three.”
The final words of my review of Buried Realm’s sophomore release are worth restating as album three is now upon us. Self-titled and self-released, ‘Buried Realm’ has a lot to live up to based on my comments, and those of many other metal journalists the world over. However, the mastermind behind Buried Realm and multi-instrumentalist Josh Dummer is not only talented, but he’s also ambitious, driven, and hard-working. That’s a powerful combination in anyone’s language, and so the American has as much chance as anyone.
Aside from the drums that are performed throughout this release by Heikki Saari, Dummer does everything. Guitars, bass, vocals, songwriting; the whole works. That being said, though, the fact that he is once again joined by a cast of guest musicians to sprinkle their own magic into the mix, only helps to increase the sense of expectation around this release, for me anyway. Bob Katsionis (Serious Black, ex-Firewind), Christian Münzner (Obscura, Alkaloid), Christofer Malmström (Darkane), Christopher Amott (Dark Tranquillity, ex-Arch Enemy), Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Witherscape), and Dean Arnold (Primalfrost, ex-Vital Remains) all pay a visit to the world that Dummer has created, all adding a little something extra along the way.
I would hazard a guess that Dummer’s primary instrument is almost certainly the guitar, based on the music he creates, his promo photos, and the fact that the vast majority of his chosen guests are known for their prowess with the stringed instrument of the Gods. If you are thus far unfamiliar with Buried Realm, this alone should give you an idea of what you can expect. Call it extreme metal, call it melodic death metal, call it technical death metal, call it anything you want. The bottom line is that each of these descriptors holds a certain amount of accuracy. But more importantly, however you define it, the music seriously shreds. Whether it’s in the form of a neck breaking riff, a clever lick, or a face-melting solo, not a single song goes by when Dummer and friends don’t worship at the altar of the six string.
After a relatively modest, quiet, and melodic intro in the form of ‘Entrance’, ‘Spectral Light’ explodes with real intent. Blastbeats and heavy, sharp riffs are the order of the day here, as Dummer lays down an early marker. His vocals are as caustic as previous albums, whilst a modicum of melody and groove surfaces within the verses. The chorus is reminiscent of the days when Arch Enemy could actually write a memorable song; it’s melodic and catchy, yet it remains a bruising affair with a pummelling rhythm section at its core. The speed at which some of the ensuing riffs are executed is thoroughly impressive, underlining the skill of Dummer perfectly.
Easily the fastest and most intense of all the compositions on this record surfaces in the form of ‘Poison Palace’ which, according to Dummer himself explores the topic of some people becoming dependant upon drugs and other chemical substances. I love the range of vocals used, from the higher-pitched dry approach, to the deep guttural growls which are so satisfying. This track also features one of the most arresting solos heard on this album, a whirlwind of melody and technical dexterity within the confines of one of the harshest songs on offer.
The galloping groove and effervescent lead lines not a million miles from what In Flames would deliver in their heyday create a bit of a false impression on ‘The Iron Flame’. A song about the loss of family and friends, it initially feels too exuberant. But listen more closely and the melodic sensibilities, as well as the wailing, flamboyant leads that feature heavily hide a vague note of melancholy too, a bittersweet note to what is one of my personal favourite tracks on ‘Buried Realm’. The guitar work is insane and when it finally calms at the end, the synths bathe the closing moments in a reflective sense of calm.
Speaking of synths, the introduction to ‘Witch Bones’ is dominated by them, but more of a theatrical tinkling than anything else. Enhancing the lyrical content that explores themes of human temptation towards evil, it’s a shorter, snappier composition that is no less bruising for its brevity. Those with a soft spot for the deep grorls of Dan Swanö will swoon over ‘Where The Armless Phantoms Glide’, a preposterously named song that sees the guest duet with Dummer to great effect, whilst once again, we’re treated to guitar gymnastics all over the place. Particularly enjoyable are the muscular riffs and the bold cinematic synths that come to the fore in the latter stages of the song to counteract the more sci-fi inspired sounds that also lurk within.
One of my other firm favourites however, has to be ‘Elder Gods’. As I’m always at pains to admit, I’m a sucker for melody and this song produces some of the strongest and most enjoyable on this record. The chorus to this beast is groovy and catchy which, in turn, makes it one of the most fun sounding in my eyes. My head nods, my air guitar makes an appearance, and I smile broadly as the track unfolds. The great thing about it though, is that for all the melody, the heaviness and intensity is never compromised; instead, the two elements compliment each other very well indeed.
This self-titled record then ends with a cover of ‘He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask)’ by Alice Cooper. Whether deliberate or not, I get a hint of Children of Bodom in this track due to the chosen synth sounds. To be perfetly honest, it’s a fascinating rendition because were I not already familiar with the original, I’d not have realised it was a cover.
The only way to conclude this review is to return to the beginning and again reference my review of ‘Embodiment Of The Divine’. At the time, I expressed my hopes that the third Buried Realm album would continue an impressive run of form. As it turns out, Josh Dummer has gone one better, by creating his best body of work yet. It’s often the way that artists will self-title a record that they feel immensely proud of, and that tradition continues here. ‘Buried Realm’ is chock full of all the things you want from this entity: technicality, aggression, and melody, with plenty of guitar histrionics to top it all off. But, you also need good songs and, on that score, there are absolutely no complaints from me. In short, Buried Realm have never sounded better.
The Score of Much Metal: 92%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: