Burnt by the Sun - Heart of Darkness (Relapse/Riot)

After six years, Burnt By The Sun finally return with their swansong, named after Joseph Conrad's seminal novel, which Count Gorlock claims to have read, although we reckon he's only saying that to appear all sensitive and intelligent to women so he can get his squalid little end away. Anyhoo...

This review is going to be hard. First things first, I’ve already written about Heart of Darkness on another site, and churning out the same review would be the height of cheek, so I’m going to have to find a completely different way to talk absolute shite. Secondly, it’s going to be hard to maintain any kind of journalistic decorum, as I absolutely positively no questions asked cherry on top fucking ADORE Burnt By The Sun, and have done since I heard them on a Relapse Records sampler CD waaaay back in 2003. They’re just so bloody spiky and vicious, and remind me of better times, like when my flatmate threatened to glass me after I played their previous opus The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good at bowel thudding volume.

Oh Hamish, how I miss thee.

Anyway, it’s been six years since that album, six years in which the band have lost members, gained new ones, split up, reformed, bought pets, had kids, gone bald etc. etc. etc. The new record has been a long time coming, so the weight of expectation flies over them like an albatross in an affliction t-shirt.

And what do Burnt by the Sun do? They fucking shoot the bastard down and have it for dinner.

As soon as Inner Station blasts in, six years might as well be six seconds. Kicking off with some frenzied scratchy power chords and frenetic drumming, it bursts through the door like some heroic drunk, screaming ‘I’M BACK FUCKERS.’ Everything that made them brilliant in the first place returns as maniacally as ever, from Dave Witte’s rapid-fire drums to Mike Olender’s ire-drenched vocal diatribes, as well as the dissonant guitars of Ted Patterson, John Adubato and Nick Hale.

Through the course of thirty five minutes, the listener is battered by a direct, no frills assault, showing that metalcore CAN be amazing when done correctly, and not botched into a mewling, cloying amalgamation of turd. Not naming any names (coughKILLSWITCHsplutter). Each dose of angular hardcore segues seamlessly into the next, resulting in a pretty stonking listen. Basically, it's what the Dillinger Escape Plan could be if they were more focused on kicking arse and not so intent on ripping off Mike Patton. It's aggressive, intelligent music that'll annihilate your stupid face off one second, and then screech at you about politics the next.

However, there’s one grievance. The record doesn’t quite hit the heady heights of their previous long player, the aforementioned The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good. If you haven’t heard it, I suggest you check it out as it’s half an hour of aggressive perfection (ironically) that few bands will ever top. On that record, they flirted with more progressive elements, making the violence that much more potent. Unfortunately they’ve reined those elements in for Heart of Darkness, resulting in a less enthralling, more straightforward listen.

But, complaining that Heart of Darkness isn’t as good as The P… oh you know what it’s called now, I’m not bloody typing it again… is like saying a handjob isn’t as good as getting a blowie. It’s still fucking awesome either way.

Highlights on the record include the juddering, spastic beats of F Unit and the huge sounding grooves of Goliath. Special mention must also go to Rust| Future Primitive, where for the first time in the band's career, they incorporate something approaching melody in their vocals.

It’ll also be the last time, as this is it for Burnt by the Sun. After touring for this record, they will be no more. They’re splitting up to go their separate ways, leaving a legacy of three stonking albums and an arse-ripping ep. However, at least with Heart of Darkness, they left us an exquisitely violent parting gift before bidding us adieu, boarding their boat, and sailing down a misty African lake in search of Colonel Kurtz. The wanker.

Burnt by the Sun's Heart of Darkness is out now on Relapse/Riot. If you want a copy, you can get it here.