Artist: Buried in Verona
Album: Vultures Above, Lions Below
With the name of their latest full length album, one might think Buried In Verona are between a rock and a hard place. Especially in light of the band’s continued stylistic progression throughout their discography, one might think that this Aussie quintet might find themselves crushed under their attempts at continued maturation. Fortunately for the listener—and for Buried in Verona—those who fear the worst for Vultures Above, Lions Beloware afraid over nothing. Rather than describe a tough spot between two terrifying fates, Vultures Above, Lions Below is a picture perfect description of the band’s newfound ability to expertly toggle soaring, stunning melody with skin-peeling, spine-shrinking heaviness. In a time where a band’s sound changing can be their death knell, Buried in Verona stand tall, unafraid and unmovable with their sturdy, strong resolve.
Vultures Above, Lions Below is the next logical step in Buried in Verona’s sonic path, showing the band fully embracing a clean split between uplifting, energetic and radio-friendly anthems to bone-busting, mosh-inducing metallic barnburners. An excellent example of the former is found within “Hurricane,” where percussionist James Swanson paints enormous soundscapes with splashy, airy cymbals that beautifully contrast his deep, looming toms. “Vultures Above” also emphasizes Buried in Verona’s more ambient nature, with guitarists Richie Newman and Mark Harris layering intricate, sky-high riffs that twist and loop over the listener’s head like the song’s flesh-hungry avian namesake. Here, Swanson’s drumming is ever so slightly more aggressive, bolstering the beautiful vocal efforts put forth by frontman Brett Anderson (aided by guitarist Newman). Vultures Above, Lions Below’s softer, awe-inspiring anthems illustrate the interplay between Anderson and guitarists Newman and Harris, bringing Buried in Verona’s songwriting to a whole new level.
Where Buried in Verona excel at writing entire songs based around melody and harmony that were typically only hinted at or used as choruses on their past releases, they are still no strangers to brute-force heaviness. “Dig Me Out,” as well as “Bring Me Home” showcase this excellently, highlighting pulse-pounding percussion from Swanson that syncs up brilliantly with the bold, bouncy bass grooves from bassist Brandon Martel. Martel adds ferocious hints of rumbling dissonance overtop of Swanson’s booming bass drum to make opening salvos like the nu-metal influenced introduction to “Dig Me Out” particularly grating—especially as they rapidly dissolve into disastrously groovy breakdowns. While Martel and Swanson hold down a visceral, muddy low end, guitarists Harris and Newman do exactly what one would expect, chugging away with earthshaking candor to pummel the listener as if each note was a sledgehammer swung right at their temple. During these moments, Anderson’s vocals are every bit as eviscerating as they were on Notorious and Faceless, giving the listener every ounce of throaty, grisly intensity they were expecting from a Buried in Verona release.
Vultures Above, Lions Below finds itself at the apex of Buried in Verona’s progression, as it serves as more than just “another step” in the band’s discography. While fans of Saturday Night Sever-era Buried in Verona might find themselves let down in the apparent lack of heaviness, those who open their mind—and their ears—to the band’s latest release will be rewarded in an innovative and original take on metalcore. “Extraction” and “Pathways” are brilliant examples of this—as Buried in Verona channels the energy and aggression of Faceless and gives it a facelift with catchy, crooned choruses and a diverse array of metallic influences that sees the band expanding past their previous albums. Vultures Above, Lions Below has something for fans of Buried in Verona at any point in their discography—from the rough and tumble early years to the more refined and mature recent releases. More than that, however, it has something for fans of all styles of heavy music, as Buried in Verona intelligently intertwine skull-splitting heaviness, headbang-friendly shred and uplifting, catchy melody into a release solid enough to stand among the band’s already impressive catalog of releases.
For Fans Of: Parkway Drive, In Hearts Wake, Miss May I, Saviour
By: Connor Welsh