Guess who’s back in the house (of straw)! Bury Your Dead might not have much of a profile these days, but they were easily one of the most acts of the early 2000s. The Boston hardcore crew are as much to thank/blame as The Acacia Strain, for the bouncy, beatdown-focussed hardcore-come-deathcore acts that dominated the mid part of the new millennium and, when it comes to wall-to-wall chugs, no one does it better.
The short, 5-track EP We Are Bury Your Dead constitutes the band’s first collection original material since reuniting with definitive frontman Mat Bruso for 2011’s Mosh n’ Roll. That last album was a throwback effort through and through, and We Are Bury your Dead is still a largely backward-looking affair. The tracks are all, once again, named after Tom Cruise movies – in the style of 2004’s classic Cover Your Tracks – and all of them could have fit comfortably on 2006’s Beauty and the Breakdown, with which they share both a sonic palette and darker lyrical subject matter. Rather than camo-shorts and throwing down, the songs invariably deal with themes of suicide and abuse. As with Beauty and the Breakdown, most are told from a (presumably female) victim’s perspective, though there’s more depth to their explorations than most hardcore/metalcore bands’ fetishisation of suffering and ultimately more toward Mosh n’ Roll‘s dark introspection. The EP also sees the return of drummer Mark Castillo, who went on to play with Between the Buried and Me and Emmure, although he doesn’t bring much to distinguish him from Dustin Schoenhofer’s work on their previous record.
“Minority Report” leads the EP in defiant form, with its challenging refrain “I’m holding out, I’m holding on, and I’m here after all of these years, so fucking take me out”. Even outside of the series of percussive breaks that punctuate its climax, the track is often reminiscent Slipknot at their most aggro, in the way a lot of 2009’s hugely underrated It’s Nothing Personal also did, and the track does a great job of blending the catchyness of that record with into the darker canvas of Mosh n Roll. “Oblivion” takes the “Sad But True” route – offering up a slower, groovier contrast to the record’s exolposive opening, which seems to be a trend at the moment (see also: the recent Slipknot and forthcoming Bad Wolves albums). It’s undeniably heavy, and the change of pace is effective, but it’s also probably the weakest track on the record.
“Maverick” kicks things back into high gear, with its memorable opening catchcry “It’s give and take”, and its chorus’s conclusion of “she remembers it all except your fucking face” helps recapture the vibes of Beauty and the Breakdown as much as its rugged blend of tempos. “Lions for Lams” (which is a movie I’ve never heard of and am still not entirely convinced actually exists) is another heavy hitter, while “Collateral” is an instant classic that is almost detrimental to the rest of We Are Bury Your Dead just because of how tight and effective it is by comparison. Perhaps the only real disappointment is the lack of any contribution or guest spot from Myke Terry (now of Volumes), who helmed the band from 2007–2011, following Bruso’s original departure. Terry appeared with the band (alongside bruso) at the band’s “Still Alive” shows earlier this year and – as a big fan of the Terry albums – it would have been great to see him rejoin the band on record as well.
There are a few modern twists to be found. We Are Bury your Dead was produced and mixed by ex-Acacia Strain guitarist Daniel “DL” Laskiewicz, and you can definitely hear his influence creeping into the songwriting as well. “Oblivion” and “Lions for Lambs” each start with the kind of elastic, Meshuggah-esque riff Laskiewicz was experimenting with around the time of The Acacia Strain’s Wormwood (2012) and Death is the Only Mortal (2012), and “Lions for Lams” is also interrupted by an electronic interlude reminiscent of Bring Me the Horizon‘s There is a Hell… (2010) and Suicide Season (2008). Though the metal and hardcore scenes have largely moved of from these influences in Bury Your Dead’s absence, it’s important to remember that the band themselves influenced many of the bands they’re now taking influence form in the first place. It’s as much a case of the student teaching the master as those that followed in their wake paying dividends to now-elder statesmen – a situation summed up by the fact that We Are Bury Your Dead comes courtesy of Attila frontman Chris “Fronz” Fronzak’s Stay Sick Recordings.
Bury Your Dead have been around as long as this kind of sound has existed. Yet, while they’re still a band very much of their era, they’re still more than capable of keeping up with the slew of acts they inspired. There are few, if any, songs that have come out this year as exhilarating and hard-hitting as “Collateral” and the rest of We Are Bury Your Dead doesn’t stray far behind. While not a revolutionary release for band or genre, it remains a solid reminder of why Bury Your Dead are so revered and just how much they remain foundational to the modern metal/hardcore sound.
We Are Bury Your Dead is out now Stay Sick Recordings. They’ve also released a line of “I Used to Mosh” merchandise, that I find very amusing/relatable (and wish I could afford).