Metalcore, to me, is a genre which is characterized by watered down riffing, weak breakdowns, and direct songwriting which leaves much to be desired. BURNING SKIES are out to prove me wrong, as they display that the lines are not quite so distinct. “Desolation” is a goddamn train steamrolling ahead at full-speed and I’m stalled on the tracks in my ‘81 Pinto. This is decidedly Metalcore, but a variant which is an amalgam of Thrash, Death, and Extreme Metal as a whole. The end result is an interesting album which manages to rise above its peers.
BURNING SKIES separate themselves from the pack due to the balls out over-the-top breaks in sharp contrast to the sophisticated riffing. That euphemism, wall of sound, is very appropriate in this instance. After an unsettling intro of light static, “RKD” kicks into high gear with that Grindcore opening passage which sets the tone for the entirety of the album. Moments like these are splattered throughout the disc in various doses, serving well to get the head banging with alternating double-bass and thick swathes of lethal riffing; no soft-balling here. Even when they slow things down and get into the almost OBITUARY-like riffing (believe it or not), the composition is fucking solid and you never lose track of the intended message.
Despite some of the elevated Death Metal riffing and Grindcore frenzy, the band still aptly reminds us that they are rooted in the ugly genre of Metalcore. Hardcore stop-start breaks are not exactly camouflaged and compositions can quickly be deflated before they are ever able to truly materialize. If they were going to include these stomping passages I would have preferred a little bit of variance and perhaps a curve-ball or two in a similar nature to THE RED CHORD’s debut. “Desolation” is a bit more predictable, and equally less interesting due to this falter which is a shame. I may be a moot point, but I also could have done without the pause in “Could You Sink Any Lower?” and the clean spoken, “Now, If you do not think this song is the greatest song ever…I will fight you, that’s no lie.” It comes across as immature and pointless.
“Desolation” marks itself as the second Metalcore album I can wholeheartedly recommend. While not exactly excellent, this is a solid effort and it is great to see actual balls in the songwriting rather than yet another KILLSWITCH ENGAGE rip-off. Never melodic or overly emotional, BURNING SKIES will kick your ass from start to finish and inspire copious amounts of head-banging.
(Online December 1, 2006)