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As Good As Dead - 85%

televiper11, April 15th, 2011

It must have been like 15 years ago that I stood outside the QE2 in Albany, NY waiting to be let into a Sam Black Church show. I remember seeing some guys skateboarding, one of them was the lead singer of Burning Human, though I didn't realize this until he got onstage a few minutes later. Burning Human was the first death metal band I ever saw live and they totally terrorized me. After the show, I bought a comp of upstate NY hardcore and metal called "We The People" just because Burning Human was on it. A few years later, they disappeared from the scene and I read somewhere that their drummer had joined Shadows Fall, a band I'd always felt was abyssmal. Other Albany area bands like Skinless managed to make it big but never in the intervening years did I expect to hear from Burning Human again. Now they're back and I couldn't be happier.

"Resurrection Through Fire" captures the classic Burning Human sound of early 90's Morrisound death metal tinged with broad hints of late 80's NYHC. Several of the songs here were previously recorded but the difference here is in the beefier production, a process overseen by James Murphy who has plenty of practical experience in this area. The sounds he captures for this record are massive, with Jason Bittner's drums way forward in the mix, as they should be since he gives a literal drum clinic. His fills, rolls, kicks, and blasts are all crystalline perfection. It was easy to forget, in the simplicity of Shadows Fall, how excellent a metal drummer he is.

If I have one issue with the sound it is with the lead guitar tone, a clear and ringing sound reminiscent of the lead-work on "Heartwork" but not as technically precise. It sounds the same on each track and is distracting. Most of these tunes would do better without leads at all -- or else they should've asked their producer to sit in more as the guest solos he delivers are far superior . In terms of riffage, the duel guitar attack is excellent, churning out bludgeoningly precise and catchy riffs that could get a circle pit started in seconds. The bass is audible, always nice for the genre. Jonah Radaelli's vocals are deep monotone abrasive. To break up the monotony, there are backing vocals from bassist Jay Van Dervoot, whose raspy voice is similar to that of Jeff Walker.

It is great to hear a bunch of their older songs re-recorded, particularly "The Final Conception," "Guilty of Insanity," and "Chemical Experimentation" since those have been my favorites forever and have worn their age nicely. New tracks like "Tormented Mind" blister as well.

I wish Burning Human could be a full-time band again but understand that their existence now is solely a concession to Jason Bittner's success with Shadows Fall. That said, they do occasionally play live and will hopefully one day record more material. Anyone with a fondness for old-school death metal should check this out.