Monday, December 18, 2006
Burn to Black—Mach 666 (Urgent Music)
Toronto’s Burn To Black are here to celebrate the fact that metal is awesome. It's awesome when vocalist Rob Ouellette yells lines like “See the fuckin' violence!” or when he urges us and his bandmates along with "Let's rock! Come on!" on “The Vanishing.” Drummer Evan Johnston has the taste and judgment to know that laying it down four-on-the-floor like Phil Rudd on crack is just as awesome as your requisite death metal blasts and double kicks. Guitarists Paul Harrington and Mike Krestel have done an awesome job of honing their tone to a hyper-saturated state of serrated savagery. And bassist Sam Dunn is so convinced of metal’s awesomeness that he made a damn feature film about it. Burn to Black play a most pestilent, caustic form of thrash, with toxic traces of Swedish death, tight and speedy at times like At the Gates. As befits such enthusiastic connoisseurs of the art, their style is pure, free from niceties like keyboards and vocals that do anything but rasp and snarl in the nastiest of ways. I don't hear too much leeway in their sound, nor much to choose between the 11 tracks (plus one awesome Celtic Frost cover), but they do throw up some strong songs, like the superbly titled "Winter Rancid Skies," opener "Hellspell," and album closer "Microcosmic/Broken Lands," which delivers one of the best choruses on the album. I wouldn't mind hearing more variety in the material, with different musical shades within songs and between songs—it's not until the last half of "Microcosmic/Broken Lands" that we're granted relief from the hack & slash ripride of the previous 10 songs—but I can appreciate the excitement of a band intent on making their initial recorded statement as ferocious as humanly possible. With massive production and precise performances, the whole thing adds up to an awesome statement of “more metal than thou.” Even the title, Mach666, throws you a wink before unleashing exactly what it promises—Satan beyond the speed of sound, thrashing anything within range of the shock waves. Burn to Black have released a beer-fueled master-class in metal...and a pretty awesome debut album.