etal today can often be classed into closed or open sounds. Closed sound bands are tightly clenched, with guitars firing in lockstep with kick drums (think of the machine gun passage in Metallica's "One"). Guitar riffs are chunky and staccato due to a technique called palm-muting, which chokes notes short. Most death, thrash, and power metal bands are closed sounding. Open sound bands are looser, less uptight, often letting chords and notes ring out. Along with doom metal bands, uncategorizable groups like Neurosis and Isis have helped open up metal's sound. The most popular metal bands now in non-metal circles, Mastodon and Pelican, are very much open sound bands. Sure, they palm-mute here and there, but their tones, while distorted, aren't as hugely overdriven, as, say, Fear Factory's. It's the difference between tube and solid state amps, Gibson and Jackson guitars, and weed and speed. Open sound bands are often less scary, with influences outside of metal. If closed sound metal puts you off, try out Burst's Origo; it's quite welcoming.
Origo sounds phenomenal. It's warm and natural, the result of recording in a non-metal studio with a non-metal producer. The band cut most of its basic tracks live, which is almost unheard of in metal now. Usually, metal drummers record by playing to a click track, with other instruments overdubbed later. Here, drummer Patrik Hultin played with the rest of the band, and it shows. Grooves push and pull naturally, and the album feels like a dynamic live show. Hultin's drumming is a pleasure to hear. It's strong, nuanced, and lively, bringing to mind the Smashing Pumpkins' Jimmy Chamberlin; the octave riffs and snare accents in "Sever" are pure "Cherub Rock." The organic production particularly enhances the rimshots in "Flight's End," where the wood in the drumsticks is clearly audible. The guitars, too, sound great, richly weaving acoustic, clean, and dirty tones. Burst's trademark is moody minor key riffs in 6/8 time; the sound is like Opeth, but less death metal and less intimidating. For metal, the production is surprisingly subtle and intimate. "Stormwielder" is a sonic marvel, mixing expansive distorted guitars in the foreground with ghostly tones and vocals in the background. It's like Isis and the Cocteau Twins playing at the same time.
Burst splits vocal duties among three people. Lead singer Linus Jägerskog handles midrange screams, while guitarist Robert Reinholz does clean vocals, and bassist Jesper Liveröd interjects with the occasional low growl. Screaming often occurs at the same time with singing reverbed way in back. The mix of harsh and haunting is interesting, as are the lyrics. Verses like "Where have we gone? / I find it harder to connect / And I find it farther away from me / Where did you go? / Where have I gone?" are abstract, open-ended; one would not know from the lyrics that these were metal songs. But the album's highlight, "It Comes into View," is an instrumental. The song is more reminiscent of Pink Floyd than anything else; it even has a sample of a crying baby. Clean tones tiptoe across acoustic guitars, mellow organ, and soft brushed drums, with mournful bent notes recalling both The Division Bell and Four-Calendar Café. Sounding unmetal may be how metal gains wider acceptance, but Burst does it without premeditation. Origo is relaxed, powerful, and at times beautiful. Isis and Pelican fans—you know what to do.