She Must Burn
(Artery Recordings)

Back when I reviewed She Must Burn’s excellent debut EP, I said that blackened metalcore wasn’t really a thing  yet. Granted, that was two years ago, but either this London-based band was onto something, or I wasn’t paying attention. Turns out that blackened metalcore/deathcore has certainly become a thing of late, with excellent albums coming out recently from Lorna Shore, Make Them Suffer, and Carnifex (of course, Bleeding Through did it long ago). You can most certainly add Grimoire to the list, as She Must Burn’s first full-length finds the band delivering on the promise their first songs showcased, while continuing to hone in on a deliciously Gothic atmosphere that magically elevates these impressive tunes.

Go figure, the record includes vocal features from two of the aforementioned blackened metalcore groups (Carnifex and Make Them Suffer) to lead off the album (can bands just stop with the “atmospheric” intros already?); these two songs highlight what the band do well and what little tweaks they can make to further develop their already fantastic style. What helps She Must Burn stand out is the infusion of different elements to create a cohesive sound. The band clearly listened to a lot of Cradle of Filth growing up, which means the black metal strain in the band’s sound is more grandiose than incendiary- it’s more about atmosphere and grim melodies than Church burning. Further, the “core” aspects are much tighter than on the self-titled EP. Breakdowns are fewer and far between, and while they don’t all work perfectly, the infusion of groove-based riffs are a really nice touch.

“The Wicked” showcases how impeccably She Must Burn can meld their styles together, and the song has a real sense of momentum, leading to a wonderfully hair-raising conclusion. The neck-snapping riffs are a nice plus, too. Next, “Gloom” is stuffed with some harrowing blackened melodies, but the balance of chug to grim is too high, with some sub-par hardcore sections and a breakdown that doesn’t hit as hard as it could. The rest of the album follows suit, with an impressive and weighty tone (these Brits can seriously write a memorable tune) that occasionally gets bogged down with mediocre chugging and/or breakdowns.

It doesn’t hurt that this 33-minute album flies by; more bands should consider keeping things this trim and memorable. Highlights aren’t difficult to come by, though “From The Grave” and “After Death” offer up a perfect marriage of bouncy riffs, blackened atmosphere, and chilling vocal melodies from now-departed vocalist/keyboardist Aimy Miller. Her presence is felt throughout the album, and her spared use makes the moments she comes in that much more impactful. Ultimately, it’s great to see a young band continue their upward trajectory after a promising EP. Who knows how long blackened metalcore will be a thing, but She Must Burn are the kings (and queen) of it for now.

Purchase the album here.

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