When I see the term “groove metal” as a description for a band, I immediately wonder if it’s just a nu metal band that doesn’t want to get stuck with that label. To me, groove metal is Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura, or Pantera, though many critics have (wrongly, in my opinion) also lumped bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit into this category. Fortunately, in the case of Portugal’s Burn Damage, the description is accurate.
Age of Vultures, the debut full-length by Burn Damage, sounds like a mixture of Sepultura, Pantera, and Cavalera Conspiracy. The riffs are crunchy, fast (often going into thrash metal territory), and the vocals are aggressively screamed, with occasional death growls mixed in. “My Own Game” and “Four Little Pigs” really highlight the band’s ability to switch from Slayer-esque speed riffs to sludgy, crunchy mosh-pit anthems at break-neck speed. The songwriting is solid, with enough variation in tempo to keep things from getting monotonous, as well as some great guitar solos that will have old-school metal fan throwing up the horns (check out the solo on “Refugee”).
Age of Vultures has a great production, on par with just about anything on a major label; the drums in particular caught my attention. The snare-drum has a pretty satisfying “thwack” that just really emphasizes the punchiness of the more mid-tempo riffs, and gives the music a harder tone. The vocals are also pretty excellent, with a decent range that includes death growls, mid-range yells, and more shrill screams similar to Chuck Schuldiner from Death. If you’re into early Pantera or Cavalera Conspiracy, but want something with a little bit more thrash and death metal mixed in, give Burn Damage a spin, you won’t be disappointed.