BURST — Prey On Life (review)

BURST — Prey On Life album cover Album · 2003 · Metalcore Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
"Prey On Life" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish progressive post hardcore act Burst. The album was released through Relapse Records in September 2003. Burst showed great progress and will to experiment with their original melodic post hardcore sound on the preceeding "In Coveting Ways (2002)" EP, but "Prey On Life" shows Burst at the top of their game.

The music on "Prey On Life" is intriguing on many levels. First of all it´s a pretty extreme album (not death/black/grind extreme). The vocals by Linus Jägerskog are especially savage. I struggle to come up with a vocalist with a more caustic and aggressive delivery. This one is a blood cougher. Shouting and raw hardcore type vocals. The clean vocals, which Burst would start using more on later releases, are only featured briefly on the track "Crystal Asunder". The music itself is very energetic and while rooted in hardcore, Burst take that style and twist it completely into something of their own. References to acts such as The Ocean, Converge and the post hardcore pioneers in Breach are valid enough but Burst stand out from the crowd as something special because of the way they combine extreme aggression, melody, and progressive ideas. The two guitarists compliment each other very well and it´s seldom they play the same notes. The bass and the drums are technically well played and adventurous.

Besides the high level musicianship it´s the songwriting that needs to be mentioned as one of the standout features on "Prey On Life". Innovative and adventurous are two words that come to mind when trying to describe the music on "Prey On Life". The album is a kind of loose musical concept with a recurrent theme in the intro track "Undoing (Prey on Life)", the intermezzo track "Fourth Sun", that divides the album in two, and in the outro track "Epidemic". Picking highlights is difficult because all tracks on the album are of such high quality but the opening trio of tracks (excluding the intro) "Iris", "Sculpt the Lives" and "Rain" are simply outstanding aggressive and technical/progressive post hardcore tracks. Especially the latter mentioned is pure genious in my book. "Monument" and "Visionary" also deserve special mentions.

The sound production is powerful and detailed, and while it´s clear enough to be able to differenciate what the instruments do at any given time, it´s also raw and hits like a hammer. It´s a very successful sound production which perfectly suits the music.

"Prey On Life" is an outstanding album in my book and if you need an introduction to the more adventurous side of post hardcore, I´d strongly recommend that you make "Prey On Life" one of your first purchases. Burst have developed and refined their sound on subsequent albums, but the perfect balance between sophisticated progressive ideas and raw hardcore power on "Prey On Life" is something I dare say they will never achieve again. To my ears this album is a pure masterpiece. High quality musicianship, a powerful sound production, and outstanding and innovative compositions. A 5 star (100%) rating couldn´t be more deserved.
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