The debut album from Burden has been awaited, if not with mass anticipation, but intriguing curiosity after their debut single in 2010 ‘Man Of No Account’, raised eyebrows and turned more than a few ears their way. With shows alongside such heavy weights as Stuck Mojo, Soulfly and The Haunted coming from the very positive reviews of the release and a quickly building interest from all quarters towards the band. “A Hole In The Shell” is the marker to concrete or erode those positive views and thoughts.
The album stirs into action with ‘Bless The Broken’ a grunge soaked track walking the Alice In Chains/Soundgarden path but bringing a rawer and heavier edge which they never quite trod. It does not fully leap out from the release but creeps into the ear with a stoner/sludge rock groove and lays the foundation of all that follows. There is no major variation between tracks as the album progresses but when the songs are created and performed so terrifically, it is not a real negative.
‘Done With Denial’ continues in the same vein full of great guitar riffs and creativity from Marcus and Saint D., who alongside drummer Dave founded the band. The vocals of Thorsten are a real revelation throughout the album as he walks the line between growling and clean perfectly. His delivery is drawn and constantly on the pulse of the songs driving them forward just as much as the thrusting riffs from the guitars and drums or the hard basslines from Johnny.
‘Black Rooms’ for me is easily the best track on the album and is on par with any grunge/stoner anthem I have heard to date. At times you can almost close your eyes and imagine you are listening to Layne Staley letting rip over a deep darker AIC track and the fact it brings such feeling is a glowing positive and credit to the skills of Burden.
There is a neat progressive rock feel that laces some tracks as on the impressive ‘About The Veil and The Wound’ and the fair ‘Process (Into The Nothing)’ whilst at other places they have the harder metal/stoner flavour as in the great riff laden ‘The Fool’. The singles ‘Man Of No Account’ and ‘The Slug, The Drag, The Misery’, which has just been released alongside a great video, are great enticements into the album and though maybe would not be my choice of a single they do make you want to hear more.
There is a hidden track on “A Hole In The Shell” which comes in just after the closer ‘Conflict’. It is a great little acoustic piece showing off the versatility of Thorsten’s vocals nicely and though it is a departure from the rest of the albums content, it deserves more of an introduction than just as a hidden track.
“A Hole In The Shell” is like a giant beast turning and stretching its muscles without truly waking to devour us with sound. It suggests and teases the presence of an even greater power and aggression that is laying in wait and hidden within but never fully exposing itself. The album is carefully and beautifully constructed but never totally grabs its own unique identity but teeters on the edge with suggestions rather than realisation. Saying that, Burden gives us 10 tracks, 13 if you have the vinyl version, of intense and at times irresistible sounds and to miss checking the release out would be a crime and a loss on anyone’s part. “A Hole In The Shell” is available now on Ván Records.