Burden of Grief - Unchained (Massacre Records)

A pleasing dose of melodic death...

German melodic deathsters Burden of Grief return with their sixth full-length outing, Unchained, and rather nice it is too. As you’d expect from a band eighteen years into its career, there’s a confidence, expertise and swagger evident on most of the material here that lets you know that this is a band comfortable in itself, a band not about to start fucking around with stretching bounderies or breaking too many rules; It says ‘melodic death’ on the tin, and that’s just what you’re going to get. So get with the programme.

That said, the band isn’t afraid to mix things up within these pre-defined parameters: eighties metal riffage seeps through into the mix every now and then (most notably on the excellent Another Way to Die and Fearless Heart, where drummer Sebastian Robrecht manages to inject a little subtle cowbell action into proceedings too, God bless ‘im), with both guitarists (Philipp Harfland and Johannes Rudolph) slipping in and out of rhythm and lead duties with practiced ease and an easy-on-the-ear style that sometimes brings Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott to mind. Crucially, however, they never over egg the ‘melodic’ part of their job description – there’s plenty of meaty, low-end business afoot here too, the beautifully grinding Turmoil to the Void being a case in point. 

Standout track Your Heaven is Gone features some more exciting lead work and a forceful  vocal from Mike Huhmann, who actually acquits himself well throughout. Infact the only time he sounds a little uncomfortable is on the bonus track cover of Black Sabbath’s Neon Knights, the uber-melodic nature of which just doesn’t suit his raw throated holler at all.

Still, you’ll only hear that if you get the digipak version of the album as a ‘bonus’ track; get the regular version and there’s little or nothing here to disappoint the seasoned fan of melodic death. Well worth your time and moolah.

Unchained is out now.