Artist: Bury the Rod
Album: Harvest – EP
One of the greatest arguments for divine creation of the human race stems from the sense that we, as physiological entities, are simply too efficient to be the result of pure natural happenstance. Think about it: even in spite of our cognitive and spiritual deficiencies, the human body is one of the most intricately organized and effective engines out there. Even in efforts to create machines with better energy consumption ratios and higher efficacy rates, we still have made very little that is as capable at thriving and surviving as the human body is. Which raises the question—what if we were designed, but not necessarily by a divine architect?
What if we were made for harvest?
This question opens the curtain on the eerily-themed sophomore EP by Texan technically-inclined, groove-tinted deathcore act, Bury the Rod. Harvest is an intelligent, ominous display of heavy music expertise—combining crushing aggression with catchy grooves and moments of goosebump-inducing atmosphere and haunting ethereality, these Austin annihilators create a captivating EP that continues 2016’s trend of deathcore revival all the way up into the new year.
Harvest lives in the sweet spot between dense, mind-numbing technicality and boring, breakdown-laden downtempo. From the first moments of the intense introduction, “Harvest,” drummer Dean Fountain is furious, lacing every pattern with flashy fills and fleet feet that serve as a bold foundation for the remainder of Bury the Rod’s instrumental effort. Whether it’s the almost-exotic and groovy “Swaggart” or the obliterating anthem “Reap,” Fountain’s percussion is punishing and powerful—working excellently with the low, slimy grooves of bassist Jeremy Miller to create a sludgy low end that still maintains enough speed and fluidity to keep the EP moving along. While tracks like “Reap” begin similarly to a downtempo track, Bury the Rod are excellent at working from a slow, sinister candor into speedy salvos of sonic bombardment; much in thanks to guitarists Brandon Diering and Nik Kefalas. Diering and Kefalas work together atop Fountain’s furious drumming like a pair of twin ten-ton atomic bombs, paving a clear path through the listener’s ears and into their brain with gruesome, slamming breakdowns and razor-sharp riffs. “The Solvent” sees Diering and Kefalas crushing the listener’s sanity with more shred than five bales of razor wire—while “Harvest” and “Reap” both see them relying more on dissonant grooves, letting Fountain’s drumming lead the charge. Together, Bury the Rod’s instrumentalists provide a wonderfully nostalgic style of eviscerating deathcore that is hindered only slightly by the EP’s gritty production that makes some of the leads less clear and more obfuscated than would be optimal.
With the exceptions of the mood-setting introductory track and outro, every track on Harvest is home to shrill, soul-splitting vocals courtesy of Bury the Rod’s resident storyteller, CJ Duffield. Duffield’s vocal approach is—in a word—unique. While the first shrill screams of “Conformed to Death” may seem off-putting, Duffield very quickly showcases the true extent of his skill. With bellows that shake the earth to its core, and sky-high screams that could shatter diamonds in milliseconds. “The Solvent” is one of—if not the—best display of Duffield’s skill, not only because it tests his range, but tests his endurance and energy, forcing him to perform a series of complicated vocal acrobatics that see him leaping over diffuse, devastating drums and punishing, furiously-fretted leads. So, while the first few syllables of “Conformed to Death” may seem ever-so-slightly out-of-place and a better fit for a blackened death metal or early-2000s deathgrind act, the truth is that Duffield’s vocals are vicious and versatile to a tee, expertly fitting the extra-terrestrial and eviscerating themes thrust upon the listener throughout the entirety of Harvest.
While a deathcore album build around a theme of aliens, abduction and less-than-friendly probing may not seem like the most original idea out there, the way Bury the Rod execute it definitely make it a refreshing and invigorating display of innovative and intense heavy musicianship. While it isn’t without its cons—mostly found in the moments where the production seems to detract ever so slightly from Diering and Kefalas’ insidious leads on “Toadus” and “The Solvent”–the vast majority of Harvest is hellacious and hectic in the most sublime ways the listener can imagine. The bouncy-yet-dissonant and dreary grooves found within “Risen” and “Swaggart” are enormous enough to get lost in. If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world deathcore experience that will satisfy your needs for gut-wrenching grooves and grisly, prolapse-inducing heaviness all in one, then Bury the Rod have the perfect EP to bury your ears in.
For Fans Of: Oceano, Rex, Aethere, Filth
By: Connor Welsh