Artist: Buried In Verona
Label: Unified/Zestone Records
Notorious is a shapeshifter. For an album that opens in such an alarming stream of uncontainable rage, it develops into something far more appealing and compelling than the opening slew of bile might imply. Buried in Verona has a keen ear for detail, and – opening track aside – has mastered the impressive feat of allying bruising, merciless metal tracks with something far more conscientious and serene. There’s an intriguing mix of light and dark running throughout Notorious, as the band seems to counter every compulsive moment of darkness with one of heroic ardor. It is by turns blunt and ghostly, conjuring a vivid presence no matter what the focal point of the track.
This is also owing to the rhythmic, thoughtful structure the band employs. Even on harsher tracks where the music and words are practically embedded with nails, there’s a cheeky and catchy thump in the music which ensures it never melts into a slew of ill-disguised malcontent. On the furious “Maybe Next Time,” the band calls out an unnamed but clearly targeted individual with venomous lyrics and gravelly rasps. The music is a incandescently heavy chain of riffs, but set to such excellent drum beats it’s almost impossible not to become immersed in it. The contrast between this gnarly opener and the rest of the album is immediately clear from “Four Years,” as the music is tempered with a kind of glimmering harmony to make it sound more resurgent and concerted. The chorus is particularly striking, employing cleaner vocals and a more resolute, engaged stance which will equally engage the listener. It’s more melodic than the overture, and even for those who might prefer their music heavy as a rock fall there’s a graceful appeal that’s hard to resist. These differences give the album depth, solidifying the rawer tracks as much as the more conflicted ones, and provide a thought-provoking respite for the listener.
“Miles Away” makes reference to frostbite, which seems an excellent way to sum up the colder, disembodied influence of these softer touches on the album. The verses on this track are rugged, but the guitars and echoing effects add reflection and heart to the music. “LionHeart” is a particularly exquisite track, a heartfelt and poignant ode that derives its strength from something far more alive, intimate, and personal. Even with the coursing energy of the instruments, it has a distinctly loving outlook and the singing holds its own next to the swirling storm. The ending is triumphant and really rousing, deftly harnessing the vocal power and soaring music to create a stirring and memorable vantage point for the album’s midsection.
By contrast, “Perceptions” is ghostlier and more foreboding with its emotions. Wispy effects peter through the grim, sombre instruments and singing to create a troubled and portentous atmosphere. The guitar work is magnificent, combining majestic harmonies and solos to imbue the track with an exhilarating force. “Forget What You Know” has the same, slightly inauspicious sentiment. A chorus of violins provide an exciting, refined overture before abruptly disappearing to make way for more chaotic scenes. Yet, the band filters the backing effects through these jarring breakdowns, giving the song a crudely cinematic feel. It feels bigger, broader, and rooted in the sublime – an urgently compelling song realised in tremendous detail.
Alongside the more haunted offerings are a host of blunt, brutal tracks that provide a searing antidote to the band’s more wistful inclinations. As you would imagine from a track named “Couldn’t Give 34 Fucks,” everything is vociferous and formidable, hurtling by with crushing speed and intensity. It follows “LionHeart” and easily offsets the latter’s spine-tingling tendencies with thrilling bombast. “Finders Keepers” and “The Descent” are perhaps a little more formulaic in their breakdowns, but never sound less than sincere and pack a punch of their own.
Buried in Verona has more than succeeded with Notorious, a vibrant album that adds diversity and colour to the often routine throes of its genre. Its ability to match the sinister with the divine gives it a steely depth and a sense of nobler purpose. It transcends genre, with a far-reaching accessibility that ought to appeal both near and far.
Review written by Grace Duffy