Metal fans have always gotten a bad rap from the populace at large. An easy target for pretentious new-school douchebags smugly snickering their way through Heavy Metal Parking Lot, the genre maintains the same quotient of sub-literate bozos as any other, but with a refreshing lack of pretension (for the most part). The corpse-paint set are pretty silly, but talk to the average adult metal fan who’s favorite artist isn’t Pantera or isn’t Cradle Of Filth and you’ll find them to be an educated, well-mannered lot. It’s the new-school of contemporary metal vocals that may well be the main stumbling block for the average punter. The at best barked/at worst unintelligible vocals that typify the genre tend to obfuscate any intelligent commentary you’d find therein.
Vocals aside, it’s a good time for bands that like to write concept records and stretch things out a bit. Doom franchises like isn’t Earthless are extending the boundaries well past the single song/one hour paradigm instituted by isn’t Sleep’s Jerusalem, and the average metal song of today is creeping steadily past five minutes. So it should be no surprise that every song on Buried Inside’s Spoils Of Failure, save for a single track, stretches past the six minute mark. While their isn’t Relapse debut, Chronoclast, was linked by the concept of society’s use of time as an imperialistic tool, Spoils is of a vaguer focus, railing against broad topics like eugenics as well as specifically Canadian societal ills like the Westray Mine disaster or Walkerton water pollution scandals. Whether the issues are micro or macrocosmic, Buried Inside sure are pissed about them.
The eight songs that comprise Spoils Of Failure have no formal names, save for the Roman numerals that denote their order. Each track displays the musicianship we have come to expect from bands like Isis and Pelican, with guitarists Andrew Tweedy and Emmanuel Sayer playing off each other nicely. Both are equally adept at playing textural parts or soaring lead lines and it’s that ability to play ripping single note parts over the pummeling onslaught that bedrocks Spoils Of Failure that sets Buried Inside apart from the death-grunting masses. Three out of the five players do vocals, although the lion’s share is handed by sound manipulator Nick Shaw. Rest assured, genre purists: Spoils of Failure features no Halfordian hi-jinks, just throat-shredding vocals in the lower register with the odd errant wander into the world of melody.
It’s been four years since their Relapse debut, but Buried Inside has not been idle in that time. Few bands have lasted as long or progressed as much with each release. Their Ottawa bailiwick puts them in the same camp of bands like Germany’s equally stunning Daturah that don’t see much of a presence stateside, but this record is well worth searching out. If you like your metal progressive musically as well as politically, the Spoils Of Failure may very well be your gain.