As of last week, I have four screws and two wires in my right cheek, and perhaps this explains my mild disappointment with this album. I have the metal in me, but this album does not have The Metal in it.
I suppose I should start talking about how Engine Down’s sound has “matured,” how they’re more sophisticated or intelligent or sweetly fragrant. I liked their last album; it combined strong musicianship with gut-wrenchingly dissonant crunching and screaming. Still, it lost steam toward the end, and, unfortunately, To Bury Within the Sound picks up right where it left off.
Delicate two-guitar interplay is all the rage here, as are the driving drumbeats and low, dark bass-lines. The beauty and the beastliness are supposed to work off of each other, and they do to a degree.
But I won’t talk about maturing because the buildup never pays off. There is hardly ever a dissolution of the tense, thick quiet into that chewy, distorted roar which makes post-hardcore such fun. Instead, angular dark passages segue into other angular dark passages ad infinitum – and there is a piano ballad for crissakes! To describe this album as more mature than the older Engine Down releases is to imply that sheer chordal power is somehow infantile, whereas, in my humble opinion, it’s essential.
It took me twenty-one years to get The Metal in me. Let’s hope Engine Down can get it back in less time than that.