Burial In The Sky – Creatio et Hominus

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: June 2018
Released: 2018, self-released
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Horns typically don’t have much of a place in extreme metal – unless they are incorporated into the overall orchestration many symphonically inclined bands favor. But they are certainly not unheard of, and, in fact, can be a pretty effective and compelling component – as with the John Zorn’s Naked City jazz-grind or Shining’s more palatable “black jazz,” with frontman/saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby having become the go-to for heavy bands looking for a bit of sax squeal.

The latest album from Pennsylvania prog-deathsters Rivers of Nihil (the excellent Where Owls Know My Name) featured some very cool sax interludes courtesy of guest Zach Strouse, which leads us to Burial In The Sky, his main band for whom he also plays bass.

Creatio et Hominus is the band’s second full-length and its sound tends to jockey between tech-death and prog – what they describe as “psychedelic death metal” – with frontman Jorel Hart proving an especially sinister tone with his guttural, ursine roar. And he is no less ferocious than former vocalist Jimmy Murphy, who lends a hand on “Tesla,” which kicks things off following “Nexus,” an airy, jazzy intro with sparse keys and a distant sax.

“Tesla,” by contrast, is a tumult of fleet, flighty guitaring, hurtling drums and twisty, turny construction. “Nautilus Cage” mixes and matches the intro’s relative subtlety with “Tesla’s” explosiveness and unpredictability, something that holds true over much of the rest of the album. The agile guitar work of James Tomedi really stands out here, providing much of the dynamics to counter Hart’s harsh vocals and helping knit together the constantly shape-shifting tempos and moods. He soaring solos are downright elegant – as it that of Rivers of Nihil’s Brody Uttley on the title track, where he reciprocates for Strouse’s contributions to Owls.

And as with his work on Owls, Strouse’s sax tends to be used sparingly, but strategically as in the intro, the mellow interlude of the otherwise chaotic “The Pivotal Flame” and as part of the fray on the jam-tastic instrumental title track. And, as such, it serves as a welcome accent and not a distraction, adding a touch of flavor and class. There aren’t any epileptic, free-jazz freakouts a la Naked City here, which is probably a good thing given the amount of gymnastics that already are going on.

Hart’s vocals, on the other hand, can be a bit of a distraction, or perhaps a detriment. His brutal death metal tone and delivery are often too “blunt object” for the band’s nuanced – though certainly aggressive – approach. His screamier, shoutier moments, as on “Psalms Of The Deviant” and the awesome “5 Years” make for a more comfortable fit.

That said, Creatio et Hominus is still an intriguing effort. The band’s performance is consistently spectacular, though rarely showy, and they manage to mix the various elements with confidence and even grace, making what otherwise could have been indulgent twaddle and worthwhile avant jaunt.


Burial In The Sky

Track Listing
1. Nexus
2. Tesla
3. Nautilus’ Cage
4. The Pivotal Flame
5. Psalms Of The Deviant
6. 5 Years
7. Creatio et Hominus

Jorel Hart – vocals
James Tomedi – guitars, slide, keyboards, mandolin, kalimba
Zach Strouse – bass, saxophone
Sam Stewart – drums, piano