As You Burn Within Me
Released: 2009, Self
Burned Within is the one-man solo project of the former bassist of Dutch thrashers Anubis, Robert Langendijk, who plays absolutely everything on AS YOU BURN WITHIN ME, a largely technical death metal album that incorporates some ambient elements as well.
Firstly, it’s immediately apparent from the production that it’s a self-produced album. The drums sound too precise and clean to be anything other than programmed. The vocals are mixed really well, clear and taking centre stage in the soundscape; the dual growls work very nicely in creating a feeling of space and dimension. The guitars are inconsistent: the rhythm guitars are noticeably softer than the leads, which in turn are too loud. I’m not a big fan of the guitar tone he used either, and to me, the ambient bits and sound samples are pretty much unnecessary. The bass, if not doing a bass solo, is inaudible.
Music-wise, it’s a mixed bag at best. There are some stellar technical death metal moments, especially when Rob sticks to just death metal stuff. Some of the riffs are really tasty and heavy in a Suffocation sort of way. But I have to question his lead playing abilities – a lot of them don’t ‘fit’. Perhaps this is the effect he was going for, but it was very jarring to hear several lead lines played in the wrong key or progression.
Ditto with the lead bass. I don’t know why Rob felt the need to incorporate widdly widdly lead bass lines into a perfectly good song like ‘Fatal Flaws’ – and the bass lines are sloppily placed and played! Out of time and out of key, it sounds like something a non-bassist like myself would try (and fail) to do. Or perhaps he’s been watching too many Marty Friedman instructional videos, who, if I remember correctly, advocates playing the ‘wrong’ notes occasionally to keep the audience on their toes. I understand his ambition to do something different, but this just is a step too far, if indeed this was his aim. If it was just badly played, then it’s unforgivable.
Like I said, there are good moments: ‘Fragile Sanity’ sounds relatively coherent with some great bass playing seguing into a great guitar piece; ‘Corrupted Soul’ is again a good marriage between the riff and the lead bass; ‘Sanity Lost’, up until 2:27, is a thrashing bashing piece of death metal with some good guitar playing…until the bass kicks in; and ‘Burned Within’ is good, period. But it’s all too inconsistent, it’s all slightly too ambitious for where Rob’s at at the moment. Ambition’s a good thing, and I hope he doesn’t lose that desire to push boundaries, but he also needs to be realistic and be very self-critical, since there are no other bandmates around to do the criticism for him.