Oct. 26, 2016 03:11 PM

On Battle Hymns, SideBurner’s second release, the band mostly moves away from the heady, near instrumental, psychedelic metal of their self-titled debut and deeper into a world of flaming car crashes, hot rod death machines and iron horse warriors. Everything moves at full throttle and chaos is the currency.

In this world, SideBurner holds its own with breakneck timing changes, searing guitars, spectacular drumming and more vocals than before. Even with an increased lyrical presence, and all four members play a role in that department, the record’s sonic avalanche of riffs and wall-shaking beats is by far the focus. The chaotic mix of hard rock and smart metal with minimal lyrics (screamed chants, no hooks) is punctuated throughout by a jackhammer-with-a-heart-condition beat . Yet, SideBurner hasn’t forgotten how to slowly and methodically rock at intermittent speeds. One track — the appropriately named “Jackhammer” — pounds speakers like they owe it money. It is easy to think of reckless and raw rock, but it is a finely tuned machine that turns on a dime with prog rock theory.

Although Battle Hymns features a more stripped-down approach, it still dabbles in the same headiness as their debut: “X- Ray Eyes” displays their wild psyche metal side and “Eternal Ceremony” starts out with an unearthly feel and is reminiscent of Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates.”

Overall, with the pacing and riffs, Battle Hymns has sound most similar to the sludge metal of Kylesa with a touch more rawness to their sound but a bit more tame vocally. Their temperament could be compared to Mastodon, their warrior anthems to The Sword. Intense and heady, SideBurner would have fit in with the instrumental rock of the early part of this century. On Battle Hymns, the band is like the opener, “Full Throttle.” They find their high gear immediately and never look back.


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