The introduction you get to Burden Man is bleak and dark, the slow pace of the dirty minor chords carefully strummed out of a black pit of self-loathing that this album shamelessly wallows in.
This pit, by the timbre of the music, doesn’t seem well lit, claustrophobic but there is enough space to move even with the minimalistic approach to instruments. Where songs barely get past one or two guitars and maybe a spatter of percussion.
There is a heavy emphasis on trying to instill atmosphere on this album by using as little possible to find it. There are times where the sheer isolation and desolation wafts through in a grey haze but for the most part, the music seems to sit itself under the weak, yellow light in a room so badly lit one cannot see the walls, just breaths of cold air occasionally pushing past one’s face.
Though there are some tasteful bluesy guitar passages, the music does seem to have trouble branching away from it’s initial grimy slabs of introspective dissonance and as a result, the album struggles to do much but crawl around in circles.
The only things truly mixing up the scenery of these six songs is the sparse use of soloing and effects like reverb and delay, in short, it suffers from sounding too much like the guitar and vocals tracks from a larger album waiting to be mixed with other members and dynamics.
Bass might have added depth and melody and drums could add much-needed energy.
The other gripe that wears through the experience of the EP is the lyrical content that comes off as bad goth poetry and it is hard to tell if Burden Man is a genuinely tortured soul or ultimately too self-indulgent in his own misery to be taken seriously. This is exemplified not only by the lyrics but also by his mournful baritone warbling that sounds a little too forced.
By the time words “I am ready to die…” signify the chorus of the final track, simple titled ‘Burden Man‘ you could be forgiven for barely noticing most of the songs come and go. It’s not until the final track where the album feels like it’s going somewhere, even if it is slightly derivative of Nine Inch Nails and heading into noise rock territory, but sadly it’s over there.
Overall, Burden Man is bleak self-loathing at it simplest, it feels underdeveloped and overly too restrained and for now comes off as an anti-climax as there seems to be too many parts missing from the sound. But it doesn’t mean you might not find something in it, after all, the guitar playing is quite nice. Or perhaps I just don’t get it.