San Francisco's BURN RIVER BURN released their 'Neüstonia' album at the beginning of June via Pavement Entertainment, following up their self-titled debut from 2011. They’ve been likened to both Sabbath and Soundgarden but they're new to me so I'm fresh ears and I'm on it.
I'm instantly struck by the dual guitars and the pounding drum, pulsating throughout the first track, 'Thanks For The Ride'. This song isn't too heavy but it's respectably gruff and catchy, with the rhythm section at its heart, super low guitars and showcasing Paterson's distinctive vocals. Great start, a fun track which sticks in your head.
'Witch Hunt' is a face-melting wall of sound with a brutal dirty-blues groove and killer riffs. 'U Dig', however, is not for me. The song is technically good, high octane with sludgy guitars and a brutal drum beat, but lending a little towards doom for my tastes. There's no doubt Burn River Burn have swagger though.
'Sworn To Silence' slows the album down and is a darker, edgy track with intense instrumental, including organ, and a textured, tortured vocal. 'Sweet Hurricane' is my favourite on the album, from the catchy riffs to the swell of the drum, it's compelling with a lazy, sultry vocal, and more than a hint of a southern influence doused in whiskey. The verses amble along towards a weighty and demanding chorus. Love this! I am a cowgirl at heart…
Angst-ridden 'Waiting' feels like it's building towards something…but never quite gets there. Like too much foreplay, a little frustrating but not entirely unsatisfying. There is a stunning guitar solo just before 3 minutes which saves the track for me and retains my interest.
The bass in 'Burning Bridges' rumbles in my tummy, in a heavier track with a grimy riff and angry vocals. But that southern taste returns with 'Into The Vein' from the twang of the guitar to the harmonica, the bass and drums grumbling away in the backdrop.
'Immaculate Contraption' features more grinding of guitars and heavy instrumental, accompanied by a lush deep vocal performance which climbs at 2:14 to a shouting final chorus, and that all-important scream towards the end. This is where I admit to mowing my lawn to this track, headphones on and throwing myself around like Mrs Doubtfire with a vacuum cleaner (I can't say Freddie Mercury as it really wasn’t that cool!) Perfect listened to LOUD.
The title track, 'Neüstonia', begins with a fast-paced pulse-rate style beat, literally coursing the energy through this track. The song is quite narrative, it feels like it's going somewhere and telling you a story, and man do you want to listen! Again incredible catchy riffs and a song laced with attitude.
'The Rift' has a really long intro, the vocals only cutting in after 2 minutes. There is an almost tribal feel to the groove and the soaring vocals are worth the wait but I was confused on first listening as to where it was going. There is an argument for closing the album this way, to catch your breath after a roller-coaster ride, but I think I would have gone out with a bang, maybe the title track.
This album is a mixed bag of slow burn and outright metal onslaught. You can hear the cymbal with the drums, the dual guitars deliver pervasive riffs, and the vocals are powerful and vivid. I can feel some of the influences on listening but this is definitely not tired or dated. There are ups and downs but I genuinely like this album, and love some of the tracks on it; standout 'Sweet Hurricane', 'Immaculate Contraption' and 'Neüstonia'.
Thanks for the Ride
Sworn to Silence
Into the Vein
John Paterson – Vocals
Kevin Amann – Drums
Chuck Howell – Guitar
Mike Plunkett – Guitar
Marco Guzman – Bass