Live Burial – Unending Futility Review

For many years after I began my metal journey, Death was the only old school death metal band I ever really listened to. It all started when I purchased a copy of Symbolic, a record that I couldn’t quite grasp initially. It was one of those classics that I felt obligated to own due to its stature in the scene, but it was a little over my head at that time in my life. After a year or two of periodic revisiting it suddenly clicked, and in the decade-plus since that moment, Symbolic has become a top 10 of all time record for me. Naturally, I went back (and forward) through the Death discography, and I quickly became enamored by Chuck Schuldiner’s skill, passion, and ability to gather phenomenally talented musicians together to create an audible snapshot of his brilliant mind on each successive album. Well, after only a few minutes of listening to Unending Futility by Live Burial, it becomes quite clear that the British band shares my affinity for Chuck’s music.

Unending Futility finds Live Burial inhabiting the realms of Death’s Human by coating old school death metal in a candy shell of impressive technicality and progression. Fifteen seconds into opener “Seeping Into the Earth,” you’ll hear the fretless bass of Lee Anderson (Horrified) begin to march, and when vocalist Jamie Brown comes in over some frantic riffing, you’ll swear that Schuldiner has returned to continue his work. The similarities continue with a spacey solo and an extremely violent blast beat section. Embedded single “Condemned to the Boats” is extremely riff-centric, and the band’s commitment to filling their challenging music with high quality, accessible groove makes Unending Futility a breath of fresh air. Live Burial seems to have found an effective balance between technical prowess and good, stoopid riffage.

“The Crypt of Slumbering Madness” begins with a throwback to Live Burial’s doom past with a solo wafting above lumbering arpeggios while Anderson noodles on bass. But two-thirds of the way through, just when I thought that I already had the gist of the song, it blasts into a death/thrash blitzkrieg. And that’s the greatest strength of Unending Futility: you can never predict what is going to happen next. My close listens of this album have literally felt like an adventure, each track dealing out musical twists and turns like they’re going out of style. Seven minute standout “Rotting on the Rope” begins as a slow-churning Incantation bulldozer, throws some blistering death metal right intro your face, then exits with a melancholy melodic doom passage before you can even get mad. Penultimate track “Winds of Solace” is a classical guitar instrumental played over suavely fingered bass, and it leads into the nearly ten minute closer “Cemetery Fog,” a good, varied epic that could use a minute or two of pruning.

The production on Unending Futility is one of its greatest strengths. There’s a tremendous amount of breathing room in the mix allowing every performer to have an opportunity to shine, and the result is a simply beautiful death metal record. I’m not even going to attempt to pick a standout performance, because each band member equally contributes to a fantastic and enjoyable whole. This is the sound of a band that has nailed their targeted sound, and because that sound so clearly mimics Death, there are bound to be cries of “derivative” from some listeners. I hope you socially distance yourself from those people, though, because Live Burial rules. The 41 minutes of Unending Futility go by quickly, and strong tracks like “Condemned to the Boats,” “Swing of the Pendulum,” and “Rotting on the Rope” — the latter is a nearly perfect death metal song and SotY contender— ensure that death metal fans will enjoy every moment of the album.

Live Burial is the sound of Death circa 1991 resurrected — there were honestly moments while I listened to Unending Futility during which I forgot that I wasn’t actually listening to Chuck and the boys. If you’ve ever wondered what Human might have sounded like with a bit more groove and accessibility, I highly recommend that you give this a try.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 3rd, 2020

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