Researching today’s review subjects allowed me to stumble upon something of an unusual rarity. If the Metal-Archives is to be believed, then Sardinian based heavy metal quintet Burning Ground have been around since 2002, but had yet to release any music commercially by the end of 2016. I’m not quite sure why it took so long for anything to become available under their moniker (and God help any fans that were around at their inception), but by early 2017 this had changed, with Last Day of Light issued independently. Their first release of any note, this debut full length record will now be distributed to the wider market with the aid of fellow Italians Minotauro Records.
Burning Ground they may be by name, but the band certainly isn’t blazing any trails with Last Day of Light. It’s an eight track heavy/power metal that occasionally dips a toe into thrashing thrusts and grooving charges. Whilst being European based, their power influence draws more from the American style, with riff orientated songs and a grittier approach to the vocals. Maurizio Meloni sounds greatly at ease as he belts out his lines, and his voice strikes a fine balance that never lacks potency or sounds overly harsh. His confidence is clear from the off as he croons over the mid paced surge of the “The Killing Hand”, his tones also marrying well with the muted melodic motifs of the chorus. The solos of Andrea Alvito are also well done, with a nod to the sort of sublime Smith/Murray passages that grace the Maiden records of the ’80s. “Darkened Desire” and “The Burning Ground” both rely more on groove based riff work, whilst the title track is built around a chunky main riff and a nice, looping guitar harmony. The chugging intro of “Before I See”, with its almighty bass presence, belies the traditional metal leanings the rest of the song has, which again invoking the more epic flair of the archetypal ’80s heavy metal classics. “Facing the Shame” is a tale of frustration, with the unremarkable main body of the song failing to match the promise of the sublime opening riff.
And really, the word ‘unremarkable’ is the common thread that runs through much of Last Day of Light. There is a level of requisite competency about everything; from the performances to the clean, modern production that gives the package that extra punch, but there’s no songs here that will really stand out when stood up against those of Burning Ground’s contemporaries. Everything just sounds so ordinary. The lack of any truly memorable hooks is certainly an issue, and although the title track and “The Killing Hand” make a good fist of it, there’s no truly catchy vocal melodies to tie the instrumental foundations together. Another glaring flaw is the lack of any sort of variation in tempo, with many of the songs moving at the same middling pace. The group certainly have the chops to ramp up the speed and could nail the groove if they chose to ease off the accelerator, but they never opt to take the chance to go either route, which is a disappointing waste of their potential.
Last Day of Light has been a long time coming for Burning Ground, but unfortunately it’s not the roaring success they would’ve hoped it would have been. It’ll likely garner a flicker interest to those into the power/thrash genre, but I doubt many will find it does quite enough to satisfy fans of either side. I’m not sure whether the group have more material in their future, but if they do, I’d hope they try and push far beyond the boundaries they’ve set themselves here.
Highlights: “The Killing Hand”, “Last Day of Light”
Last Day of Light will be reissued and available in Europe on July 14th and the US on August 8th, via Minotauro Records.