Artist: Inhale Exhale
Album: Bury Me Alive
Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Review by: Michael Mayer III
- Did You Ever Have a Touch to Lose?
- Over and Out
- A Dark Place for Your Mind to Be
- Better Her Than Me
- Thin Black Lines
- An Era
Inhale Exhale have created that pivotal third album that often defines where a band is headed. Bury Me Alive instantly sets the tone for heavy music loaded with thick guitar distortion that, in turn, sets an atmosphere fitting to the lyrics. Make no mistake, this is not a light-hearted romp through a field of flowers filled with humor. The sound is gritty, raw, and often downright brutal as the band delves deep into the heart of humanity’s soul.
Lyrically, the album is much like what you’d expect from a band such as Inhale Exhale. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as they occasionaly use some violent imagery to get their point across. For example, in ‘Condemned’ Ryland screams, “Words become knives and guns become eyes. Shoot them down and slit their throats”. There also seems to be a theme that runs in and out of the songs about looking introspectively into our lives and getting rid of those fake personnas; putting the past behind us. The theme is closed out with ‘An Era’, in which Ryland pleads to say goodbye to that era without looking back and instead just remember what held you down as you look ahead to your goals. The lyrics have a refreshing depth that many will relate to.
Of course the lyrics would be for nought if the vocalist can’t deliver them with passion and emotion. It’s important to have variety in screaming as well as in clean vocals and Ryland delivers in both areas with flying colors. I’ll go ahead and say it, he’s one of the best vocalists in the genre and that’s not because he handles both duties. It’s that he does them both better than most. In ‘Explosions’, which is as intense as it sounds, there are no clean vocals. As a result he has to use a variety of different methods to keep the listener’s interest. The band also joins in on some gang vocals that is sure to be a favorite moment live. Then, a couple songs later, they change speeds wtih my favorite, ‘Better Her Than Me’. This time there is a heavy dose of the best singing on the album yet. The etheral guitars and vocal melodies are very reminiscent of Vices-era Dead Poetic. Fortunately, they execute this sound very well. It’s immediately followed by ‘Thin Black Lines’, a song that seems fit as a soundtrack to the end of the world with its onslaught of guitars.
It is Inhale Exhale’s ability to pull off such contrasting sounds that make the last half of the album so strong. Unfortunately, the first half doesn’t flow as well. There is no specific song structure that they repeat but the same elements are present in every track. ‘Rooms’ is a good example with the heavily distorted guitar chugging, mix of brutal screaming and melodic singing, rapid breakdowns, and an interesting riff thrown in for good measure. The difference from song to song is in how much each is used. Typically a song like ‘Condemned’ or ‘A Dark Place for Your Mind to Be’ will stand out because of Ryland’s impressive singing in the chorus and the guitars coming to the forefront. When they don’t the song tends to get lost in a sea of similarity.
Overall: Despite the tracklist being a little choppy, there is still much to like with Bury Me Alive. Inhale Exhale have some of the best clean vocals in the game and they compliment the album’s overall heavy tone. Also, unlike some of their peers, there is some substance to the lyrics that can be relatable to a wide audience without being too vague. This is a must own in any metalcore fans collection right behind the latest efforts from August Burns Red and Oh, Sleeper.
Gems of this album are: ‘Better Her Than Me’, ‘Explosions’, ‘Thin Black Lines’, ‘Intentions’