September 5, 2006 | , | 3

Bury Your Dead, Beauty and the Breakdown

After the huge success that was Cover Your Tracks, you would think that Bury Your Dead would have lost a bit of their sense of humor. With Beauty and the Breakdown, the band not only keeps their sense of humor, but pushes it that much further – irritating everyone in the process.

Sure Beauty has plenty of mosh-filled breakdowns and titles based on children’s fairy tales, it also has a few more elements that show a few hints of maturity in the band’s sound. Vocal distortion, electronic/techno elements, and layered backing vocals are employed with decent success throughout the album. While the overall direction the Mass. band’s sound hasn’t changed tremendously from that last release, it is a bit less intense. It’s much more polished in terms of production, but the sheer ferocity of the breakdowns are replaced with a feel of “going through the motions.” Now, I’m not saying that the band has gone soft and introduced a shit load of cleanly sung choruses (there are none in fact) and there some pretty large riffs sprinkled here and there. It’s just that the band sounds as though they’ve softened their delivery just the slightest bit to capitalize on their past success – trading in that ferocity for well focused mosh.

So, have they sold out then? Well, no. This band has had it’s detractors from day one and a pretty large following as well. People that I’ve talked to fall in one of two very well defined areas: you either love them or you hate them. No “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” about it. This is still very much an enjoyable album. It just doesn’t hit consistently with the same level of intensity as Cover Your Tracks.

House Of Straw
The band let’s you know quickly that they have made a few changes between albums. The first 10 seconds of the opening track are muffled with industrial static as well as vocal distortion prior to opening up at full volume. Backing vocals and extended screams on Mat Bruso’s part are new as well. This one is nothing special, but is a nice opener for the album. The band is much more polished on this release.

A Glass Slipper
This sounds much like the music on their last release. It’s got similar song structure and choruses so it’s a nice transition for those who enjoyed Cover Your Tracks. More vocal distortion and a greater range of delivery by Bruso makes this a catchy track. The drums are under greater control as well, removing that unpredictable feel that I liked from earlier releases.

The Poison Apple
There’s an interesting riff weaving it’s way in and out of the mosh and pounding drums on this one. It’s not something we’ve heard from the band before and it shows signs of maturity and more interesting things to come from this band. Bruso and the rest of the band let loose at about the 2:40 mark. There’s that intensity I’ve been missing.

Twelfth Stroke Of Midnight
This one starts a bit slower than the rest… for a few seconds. Then the band starts pouring out some crushing riffs. I’m not a fan on the production treatment on Bruso’s vocals on a few spots, but what can you do?

Trail Of Crumbs
Plenty of mosh starts this track off on the right foot. Here’s another one that sounds as though it could have come off of the last release, with the exception of the improved drumming. Bruso keeps impressing with his increased range and extended growls/screams. I wonder who’s fairy god mother he tapped for the improvement.

A Wishing Well
“A Wishing Well” probably has the most intense and pounding drums of the album thus far. If the rest of the album shared this track’s level of aggression and anger, this release may have won more fans over than it currently has. It’s easily my favorite track on the album.

Let Down Your Hair
This one continues the momentum easily with larger, crushing riffs and a few new screams from Bruso to boot. The higher end, tortured scream is a nice new element to the band’s repetoire. It reminds me a bit of a few portions from The Banner‘s last release.

Mirror, mirror…
I could have sworn this was a rerecording of material from Cover Your Tracks. It’s the fastest paced track on the album and the vocal delivery hits with a ton of bricks. My only complaint with this song is the inexplicable bit of electronic beats thrown in toward the end. It’s a bit odd.

Second Star To The Right
Layered vocals and a more complex song structure help set this one apart from the rest of the album. It’s not the best track on the release, but it’s got the most memorable chorus, and driving beat.

The Enchanted Rose
A softer, rock riff starts off slowly then is accompanied by industrial static overlaid on the bass and drums. It certainly doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. The track overall is a bit more gritty and industrial sounding as well.

House Of Brick
The final track on the album blends seamlessly from that last track carrying the industrial sludge over with it. It does, however, have the best line of the album in its chorus: “I understand your position. Do you understand my hate.” Classic ending to a pretty decent follow up to Cover Your Tracks.

~ ~ ~

For the most part Bury Your Dead have dumbed down the complexity of their sound just enough to squeeze into a more favorable market position. But they’ve done it without imploding in upon themselves in the process. There are a few times when they hit with the aggression and ferociousness heard on their previous releases. They’ve definitely matured as a band, and you can never go wrong with improved craftsmanship – all the while pushing themselves in new and different directions. You’ve got to applaud them for the effort. Even if you were a casual fan of their previous work, pick this one up. You may not get it the first time around, but on subsequent listens the release just gets better and better.

Favorite Tracks:
A Glass Slipper
The Poison Apple
A Wishing Well
Mirror, mirror

Additional Notes: