Bands are always subject to change as time goes on, but few are as controversial – at least in the metal(core) community – as when a band becomes distinguishably softer. This is the case with Buried In Verona’s newest album Vultures Above, Lions Below (interestingly enough, neither animal is native to the city of Verona).
Vultures Above, Lions Below is definitely more melodic than their previous work. Riffs are slower overall and the entire album is less thrashy and aggressive. While this isn’t inherently a bad direction to take and actually works quite well later on, there are some significant problems that hold the record back from truly shining.
The first being the production of the guitar. The melodic guitar is way too quiet and almost completely drowned out by the heavy rhythm. This is especially noticeable in the opening song Vultures Above. If Buried In Verona was truly going to go down the melodic route, then it’s doing no one any favors by silencing the very instrument intended to give the album that specific atmosphere.
The second major problem is the lack of identity for the first half of the Vultures Above, Lions Below. Dig Me Out and Separation are reminiscent of Slipknot, while Extraction sounds like The Amity Affliction. It’s a little jarring at times and prevents the first five songs from gaining any momentum and flow. With that said, the album starts to take off after the slowest song on the album Can’t Be Unsaid.
The latter half, on the other hand, is consistent and establishes a style for Buried In Verona’s new music. Songs like Reflection and Done For Good, which incorporate classical elements, balance the heavy music with the beautiful melodies wonderfully.
Granted, the melodic portions wouldn’t work nearly as well without the clean vocals, which is highlight of the album. The singing sounds unique at many different parts of the album, and the choruses are catchy, but not too simplistic, which complement the heavy guitar nicely. The screaming, on the other hand, doesn’t stand out all that much. It does its job, but it’s nothing too special and would get rather monotonous without the cleans.
Vultures Above, Lions Below is the most divisive album in Buried In Verona’s discography so far. Many older fans won’t enjoy the new direction, but new listeners who enjoy metalcore and post-hardcore might find this new album has some solid music to offer. It’s definitely an album that takes a little longer to take off, but once it does, it soars high above some of more generic artists out there.