The brief, somehow creepy and thus frightening intro nicely sets the mood for the third album of these Brits. After that it's time for half an hour of "Death and Thrash Metal meet Hardcore with a bit of Black Metal and a hint of Grindcore", and in comparison with the previous, already above-average "Murder By Means Of Existence" of 2004, these five fellows have significantly outdone themselves this time around. "Desolation..." is, on the one hand, very much a modern album, but on the other hand it may also be called "old school" as particularly the numerous Death Metal influences date back to the time when Death Metal (American or European, no matter) was in its heyday. The Black Metal and Hardcore influences however are usually only obvious in Merv's vocals. A most versatile front man, he's absolutely comfortable with any kind of pitch and so imbues each single song with plenty of variety. It's this mixture that makes the album what it is and allows BURNING SKIES to top their 2004 effort.
But back to the intro, or rather the first song "RKD". Right off the bat, this one clocks you in the face hard, tearing right through your entrails with some juicy blast beats and knocking you senseless. Harsh vocals and incising guitar riffs destroy what may have been a languorous atmosphere before and turns the place into an aurally devastated landscape. "The Sweet Sound Of Violence" continues in the same vein and once again serves up thunderous double bass, crushing walls of guitar sound and the odd melody here and there, reminding you more than once of Swedish Death Metal acts. The short "Bauer Power" is a straightforward Thrash grenade of the American variety that ends at a moderate, almost groovy place. Afterwards, the title track is a bit more complicated and requires closer listening than the previous track. Here you'll find riffs reminiscent of SLAYER as well as sounds also heard from bands such as LAMB OF GOD, THE HAUNTED or THE RED CHORD. The breakdown (if it may be called one) at the end of the song slays and does a good job of leading into the initially rather frantic Death Metal bomb "Damaged".
While BURNING SKIES continually take cues from their role models, their technical skills are so impressive that they've successfully created an identity of their own, particular with this new album. Abundant proof of this may be found in "Fairytale Supremacy", beautifully melodic at the beginning, yet slowly but surely gathering steam and putting some serious pressure on. "Caught In The Circle" and "Lurid Demolition" are other killer songs that show which side the bread's buttered on. They really bring out the big guns here while still living up to the previous tracks and showing the band at their best. With the closing track "Could You Sink Any Lower", which also happens to be the longest track on "Desolation...", BURNING SKIES cram in one of the best songs just before the album is over. Any interested metalhead may safely consider that track for evaluation purposes and let themselves be won over by a single BURNING SKIES song.
As mentioned initially, "Desolation..." is a notable improvement over early material in every aspect and thus absolutely worth a recommendation. If Metal with a very massive presentation and extraordinary production (Patrick W. Engel, amongst others also responsible for HEAVEN SHALL BURN, NARZISS, ...) is your sort of thing and a well thought out mixture of many different styles does not send you running for the hills, you should go check out BURNING SKIES right this instant. Without any doubts a superb album!
(Online December 1, 2006)