Album: It All Returns To Nothing
Label: Church Road Records
Release date: 23 June 2023
Sounds like: Scorched-earth grinding hardcore malevolence. Also, kittens*.
*We’re lying about the kittens, sorry.
Now, I love a band that has a blunt, no-nonsense name. Cruelty, Mastiff, Coffin Torture, Hatebeak (hahaha) and now add Burner to that ever-growing list. Hailing from South London, this four-piece has 1 EP to their name, the cheerfully titled scything noise of A Vision of The End and It All Returns To Nothing is their debut, and what better label to appear on, than good old Church Road Records eh?
Fucking brutal. There’s 2 words to describe this. I mean, this is like being set on fire and running through a paper factory, it’s absolutely chaotic, frenzied, guttural hardcore spliced with the most extreme moments of scything death metal, sprinkled with a flavour of mathcore deviance. Opening track, Hurt Locker bursts from the pen with such savagery, it could strip flesh from bone – it’s a whirling ball of turbulence, smashing through grind, hardcore, thrash and death metal throes in the first minute and a half. Around the 2 minute mark, it chugs and gnashes with the kind of Bane/Hatebreed-esque macho-posturing, whilst the guttural vocal barks, switch from throaty roars of indignation to scything screams of damnation. Bloody hell. Next up, is the title track, which is all furious blast beats, aggravated roars, pummelling riffs that feel as though they’re steamrolling over you, before tearing into this caterwaul of frantic, neck-snapping hardcore and it’s absolutely fucking seething with rage and boiling bile. Pyramid Head, which I assume is a Silent Hill reference, staggers into your ear canals, with the deranged, seething fury of the character, swinging it’s massive fucking sword. This is one of the closest full-thrash-hardcore tracks from Burner, and it’s relentlessly destructive, punishing and absolutely great fun – a circle pit anthem of caustic chaos that gets progressively more bludgeoning and terrifying as it goes on.
During Struggle Session, there’s a great moment at the 2:10 mark where Burner take their foot off the gas to really appreciate a sick breakdown and it’s a welcome respite (especially for their drummer, who is absolutely earning his paycheck on this.) There’s almost no time to breathe on the dense hammering of Pillar of Shame, which hits full force; it’s like Godzilla energy-beaming the fuck out of everything in the vicinity – the vocals are a scathing, throat-shredding blast of raw, blood-curdling rage, whilst the drums are beaten to a sticky pulp, and guitars jerk, clatter and flail with disgusting, math-metal rapture.
The 79 seconds of the interlude track, Trinity, allows you to compose yourself, but is still fairly sinister, sounding as if it’s been recorded through a cheap radio, the mangled guitar plucking gets more and more discordant as the volume and pace increases with unsettling speed and that “looking over your shoulder” nervousness. Prometheus Reborn is the most chest-beating hardcore track here, reminding me of the brutal nature of 90s-hardcore, while EF5, is its mic-swinging partner in crime, driving bass and drums, an antagonist’s anthem of brackish, blackened, squealing metal, with serious groove that Burner should be embracing with their flayed limbs, because it’s simply wonderful and horribly noisy in equal measure. At 7 minutes 23 seconds, An Affirming Flame is the longest track on It All Returns To Nothing, Car Bomb-esque guitar shreds litter the beginning of this track before it finds its stride in this fist-in-the-air chanting metallic hardcore rage, with the chanting lament of “and nothing changes if we don’t change ourselves” and builds with this dark, depressive, almost post-metal tone, before slamming full-force into this scrawling howl of punishing black metal screams, insane drumming and a solid wall of rending guitar attack. We then arrive at the final track, Waco Horror, which blasts past in around 70 seconds, all glitching guitar theatrics, odd-ball time signatures and a sense of a furious need to finish before an explosion happens.
Exhausting, corrosive to the very core and thoroughly venting, It All Returns To Nothing by Burner scorches the musical landscape to a smouldering wreck. The more hardcore elements on this though, are the most intriguing, where the instrumentation is given a chance to breathe, bringing forth some punishingly technical riffs and elevating the tightness of the rhythm section. An absolutely cracking debut, not for the faint-hearted – uncompromising, savage and excellent fun.
It All Returns To Nothing by Burner is available to buy on Church Road Records or via Bandcamp below.