With the best technical music – regardless of genre – the technicality of it isn’t always something that the listener really notices. Rather than seeking to impress the listener with a constant stream of unorthodox time signatures and key changes, the best technical music uses its technicality in service of good songwriting, so that what the listener’s focus is more on “wow, that song is great!” rather than “wow, that’s a nice collection of pick-sweeps”. Burial In The Sky aren’t quite there with debut full-length Persistence Of Thought, but god-damn are they ever close. This is tech-death of superb talent, both in terms of musical proficiency and songcraft, that had me swept along right from the first listen.
Key to the success of Persistence Of Thought is the almost sci-fi atmosphere that the band maintain throughout. It gives the album a feeling of space and ambition that is complimented by the talent on display, and holds the songs together no matter how many twists and turns they go through – and, as would be expected, they go through a hell of a lot. Impressively, each shift feels natural, without any of the jarring sensation that can be so common in tech-death and other progressive metal styles.
What’s just as impressive is the emotional depth on display on Persistence Of Thought. Too often, tech-death comes across as soulless, with albums serving simply as vehicles for the musicians involved to display how proficient they are with their instruments. By contrast, Persistence Of Thought has real character, and a sense of narrative that is greatly aided by the first three tracks all flowing in to one another, each with a different focus and emotional emphasis. That the technicality on display on emphasizes these aspects is of great credit to Burial In The Sky.
Because, for all this talk of narrative and emotional impact, Persistence Of Thought is still, unmistakably, a tech-death album, with an abundance of changes in tempo, key, emphasis, and plenty of unusual rhythms and guitar movements. It doesn’t really challenge the key concept of tech-death, but instead, it really nails the key aspects of the genre in a way that many strive for, but few attain. The final section of “Entry III” is a prime example, as is closer “Dimensions Divide”, which is the highlight of the album for me; the guitar movements are utterly, absolutely tech-death, but they are possessed of an emotional weight that is all too rare in the genre. Likewise, the constant shifts don’t come across as being done simply because “that’s what tech-death is”, but because they contribute to the considerable momentum and excitement the album generates.
If there’s one complaint I have about Persistence Of Thought, it’s that it can be a bit over-whelming a listen, in terms of intensity and energy. There’s so much going on, and it’s so restless, that by the end of its 34 minutes I’m usually in the mood for something else much slower and sparse. That’s a minor complaint though, as there’s no denying that Persistence Of Thought is tech-death done right, and Burial In The Sky are absolutely capable of competing with the big names of the scene.
Persistence Of Thought can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.