I had a hard time coming up with a description of Burnsred and their impressive debut album. So, I thought I’d simply lift the band’s own description of themselves as it sums the sound up perfectly:

Loosely fitting into the doom/sludge/post-metal genre, Burnsred play music which ebbs and flows through harmonic progressions, tempo changes, and dynamic shifts, while maintaining a presence both raw and unfettered
Yep- that’s about as accurate as I could ever be.  San Francisco’s Burnsred certainly fit into the sludge and post-rock realms, but they also carry (mostly due to the raspy vocals) a slight blackened/doom veneer that makes the the material sneer with a little more menace than most post-rock. While certainly Neurosis lingers as an obvious reference with ebbing, flowing and building textures and rangy long songs, I also feel this trio sits nicely along the likes of Cough and Highgate.

Regardless, Burnsred is a slick release. The 6 lengthy songs shift and contort with a pained ease. One moment the band is delivering dredges of moody post-rock atmospheres, and the next they stagger into a festering, blackened, sludgy crawl and even throw in some haunting church organs (“Standby”, “Cleanse CMXCIX”) and shimmering taut melodies. It’s all delivered with a raw, organic production that adds to the album’s unsettling hues.

Opener “Mirror” sets the album’s mood and sound perfectly with a tense build, an atmospheric segue and then a surprisingly melodic bridge around 3 minutes in before a thunderous lurch fills the song’s last 2 minutes. The aforementioned “Standby” is one of my favorite tracks, in part because of the brief organ moment that closes the lurching dirge.  Some chanted vocals and additional church organs give the already moody “Cleanse CMXCIX” even more of an austere mood and clarity amid the blackened cacophony, making it the album’s longest cut as well as the most epic.

Unfortunately, those are the only two tracks with the haunting organs, but the rest of the songs are still worthwhile. “A Sentence”  is the most pure doom-styled track on the album, a sprawling number that shifts and staggers with a a low feral prowl. “Scissors” starts with a delicate post-rock intro, but builds and saunters into a quirky loping beast, while closer “Beartrap” is a slithering atonal 8-minute monster, with a creepy acoustic midsong break which ends the album on a oppressive, nerve-wracking plod.

I hope Total Rust Music is reading this…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 17th, 2012


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