Jul 102023

(Andy Synn is back with three recent examples of “the best of British” for you to enjoy)

Despite my ongoing efforts to expose and highlight some of the “best” and/or up-and-coming examples of British Metal over the years, there’s still a fair few people who seem to think I don’t do enough to “support the scene”.

Of course, digging into this a little deeper, it inevitably transpires that this accusation stems either from the fact that I don’t cover everything that the UK scene has to offer – both because I simply don’t have the time to cover it all and because, to be honest, it’s not all worth covering – or is a consequence of my attempts to offer a more measured and balanced critique, which sometimes involves providing some constructive criticism, rather than just flying the hype flag simply because something is “home grown”.

The consequence of this is – or should be – that you know that when I write about something I do so because I think it stands out from the crowd a little (or a lot). And while I’ve definitely been guilty of underrating/overrating a few things here and there before now, I don’t think I’ve ever written about anything that isn’t at least interesting. And the three albums you’re about to read about are definitely that (and much more besides).


It’s been… interesting, let’s say that… to watch so many other sites/zines/sources going all-in on calling Burner a “Death Metal” band recently, because that’s not really been my experience of them.

Now, to be clear, this has nothing to do with their quality – I really like this album, and I’m about to explain why you should really like it too – and is more about wanting to accurately represent what they do in the best possible light.

Sure, there’s a Death Metal element to their sound, no-one is denying that, but the core of the group seems – to my ears at least – to be much more based in the harshest, heaviest, and hardest end of the Hardcore spectrum, having more in common with bands like Justice for the DamnedGet the Shot, and even The Acacia Strain (all topped off with a dash of Grindcore influence and a touch of Converge-y discordance) than what many people would traditionally associate with the term “Death Metal”.

That being said, if you are a Death Metal fan (particularly if you’re a fan of the more Hardcore-influenced wave of Death Metal bands of the last few years) you’re still going to find a lot to love here, especially with regards to the rapid-fire riffing of the title-track, the Misery Index-esque Death/Grind/’core attack of “Pyramid Head”, and the excellent melodic embellishments during the outro of “Pillar of Shame”.

It’s the back-half of the record which really – in my opinion anyway – shows off the band at their best (while also pointing towards their future potential), as while some of the earlier tracks do occasionally feel a little roughly riveted together, killer cuts like the lethally-focussed “Prometheus Reborn” and the utterly crushing, all-killer no-filler “EF5” demonstrate a near-perfect combination of both form and function, while the unexpectedly ambitious “An Affirming Flame” finds the group pushing their still-developing songwriting abilities to the limit in an attempt to blend and balance all the most extreme elements and aspects of their sound.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s probably one of the clearest examples of an album which positively screams “big things ahead” that I’ve heard all year.


Watching Calligram go from strength to strength over the last several years has been an absolute joy to behold, and their latest album (set for release this Friday) only serves to continue the group’s trend of getting better and better with each and every release.

Though their first few works weren’t lacking in either sound or fury, it was on 2020’s The Eye is the First Circle where they truly began to channel all this energy and enmity into actual songs.

But the eight tracks which make up Position | Momentum take this a step further. These aren’t just songs… they’re statements, each one a declaration that the band have no intention of compromising or conforming, even as their star continues to rise.

At the same time, however, they’re clearly not afraid to take whatever steps they deem necessary – in this case, downplaying the more Hardcore/Blackened Hardcore side of their sound in favour of an approach that favours a more “pure” (though not “trve”) Black Metal approach – to prevent themselves, and their sound, from stagnating and getting stale.

This is how songs like “Sul Dolore” and “Tebe” can blast and blaze even harder than ever while still finding space for an even richer undercurrent of moody melody – simultaneously increasing their overall intensity even as they shift things around to make room for a more introspective vibe – and why the gloomy slow-burn intro of “Eschilo” never threatens to undermine the track’s impressive impact, instead serving to enhance it.

It’s the climactic trio of tracks which begins with “Ostranenie”, however, which really show what the band are capable of these days, now that all the gloves are off, with the subtly proggy (dare I say, even White Ward-esque) ambitions of the former offering a compelling counterpoint to the razor-sharp riffs and seething melodic hooks of the more streamlined “Ex-Sistere”, all of which sets the stage for the commandingly cathartic, devastatingly dynamic strains of “Seminario Dieci” to bring down the curtain in triumphant fashion.

So if you’re looking for an album with an instant impact but which then goes on to reveal its more rewarding depths over time, then this is the record for you.


If Burner‘s debut album above is a prime example of a Hardcore band co-opting the heaviness of Death Metal to give their sound even more weight and power, then Coffin Mulch‘s Spectral Intercession provides a great representation of a Death Metal band adopting a Hardcore-inspired edge to help them strip-down and streamline their sound to its barest, and most brutal, essentials.

All muss, no fuss, and absolutely no filler, these eight tracks find the band wilfully wallowing in all the familiar tricks and classic tropes of Old School Death Metal – landing somewhere between Grave‘s buzzsaw grooves and Obituary‘s obnoxiously ugly chuggery – in a way that feels organically authentic without simply being derivative.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but for me it’s the tighter, more focussed songwriting which really marks this album out as the beginning of a beautiful f(r)iendship between Coffin Mulch and the Death Metal scene, both here in the UK and in the wider world, with killer cuts like the hammering “Into the Blood”, the savage, straight-to-the-throat attack of “In the Grip of Death”, and the monstrous, lurching momentum of “Gateway to the Unseen” demonstrating that sometimes all you need are a handful of blood and bile encrusted riffs and some filthily contagious hooks to make a lasting impression.

Sure, there’s still a need for the band to find/define their own distinctive voice here and there – though the desperate urgency of “Infernal Mass” comes very close – but, in a year where it seems like we’re constantly being told that every new Death Metal release is “the next big thing” (spoiler alert: they’re not, and I think some of these overly hyperbolic takes are going to age pretty badly pretty quickly) it’s refreshing to encounter an album that hasn’t been co-opted by the hype machine and instead just quietly (relatively speaking, of course) and consistently gets on with delivering the goods, on its own terms, while laying down a firm foundation for Coffin Mulch as “ones to watch” in the future.

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