Burning Earth - Chronicles of the calling (EP) 4/5
2. Season of thunder
3. Last of the skylords
4. The scaven cleaver
6. What hope lies
7. Legion of the Burning Earth (Tale of a thousand swords)
A fairly new band on Glasgow's unsigned circuit, Burning Earth - presumably named after the 2003 Firewind CD - feature several experienced musicians from across a variety of subgenres, and have put out a highly impressive and ambitious debut EP in 'Chronicles of the calling'.
Blending mostly power and melodic death metal, they incorporate a wide variety of influences into their sound, with 2 of the most notable being Wintersun and Bal-Sagoth. Epic, melodic and technical, only one of the 5 full songs on the EP run less than 5 minutes, and the complexity of each is highly commendable. Most of the songs feature several distinct segments, and the work that has gone into developing each is both obvious and impressive.
"The scaven cleaver" is the song that stands out somewhat from the rest. From the opening neo-classical lead fill and jagged technical riff that strongly call Necrophagist to mind, to the brutal chorus that is almost simple enough to be classed as a breakdown (!), it presents the most aggressive side of Burning Earth and shows they can steer away from lengthy epics when the mood takes them.
Vocalist Wull Hay's shrill blackened rasp is quite reminiscent of Wintersun's Jari Mäenpää, with a few Angela Gossow-like inflections here and there, and fits the music perfectly, with a few well-placed lower pitched death growls adding extra depth here and there. All of the tracks with vocals also feature at least one section spoken in a sombre narrative, the most sharply reminiscent aspect of Bal-Sagoth's style (Burning Earth being nowhere near as keyboard-driven). His lyrics all form a compressed fantasy story that is complemented by the foreboding and cinematic intro track and the short instrumental, "Visions".
The musicianship is highly accomplished and all the instruments compliment one another with nothing ever seeming stifled. The keyboards are a constant but respectful presence, taking it in turns to sit lightly over the top of the other instruments or to wait patiently in the background. They are used especially well during "Season of thunder", gently repeating the intro melody in the background after the guitarists have moved onto something new.
The lead guitar itself is particularly striking, blending traditional soaring solos with some remarkable sweep picking. The scorching guitar intro to the 10-minute closing track "Legion of the Burning Earth (Tale of a thousand swords)" is perhaps the high point of the full EP – an exhilarating burst of speed and aggression that recurs throughout the song and plays an important part in what is a suitably grandiose end to proceedings.
What is probably the most impressive aspect of 'Chronicles of the calling' is how well it all holds together – for a band only a year or so off the ground to have written songs of such length and intricacy that flow so well and don't feel overlong is an admirable feat. At 42 minutes in length (not counting the hidden bonus recording), it is longer than some full-length CDs and yet never seems bloated or self-serving. After a start this promising, it can only be hoped that Burning Earth's output will remain this strong. The prospect of a full-length CD of this level of quality is an enticing one.
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