After a recording silence of five years, Truth And Its Burden are back with their strongest offering yet. I Labour explores new ground in comparison to 2012’s Choices. After a lengthy recording process, I Labour is an album that is at the same time both more pared-down and more polished than the band’s previous releases; more polished in the sense of production and more pared-down in writing and overall sound. I would, however, be hesitant to say that Truth And Its Burden has a “new sound” but there has been a noticeable sonic shift that has resulted in a sound that feels totally true to the vision I know the band has had for their music since I first met them almost ten years ago.
The writing on I Labour as a whole departs from that on Choices and 2009’s Sending The Hope Home in that the echoes of band Misery Signals have faded into the background to the point of being difficult to spot. And this is not at all to say that the band has been at all derivative up to this point but their newest album sounds like Truth And Its Burden without any musical scaffolding or insecurities. ‘Dead to the World’ is a confident track that powers ahead in a way that makes one feel that this is precisely the sound the band has been working toward since its inception. Where they have scaled back on complex guitar riffs and polyrhythmic breakdowns, they have extended with atmospheric and melodic interludes and intros. ‘Reset/Renew’ opens with an uncomplicated guitar piece made remarkable by the use of delay (also uncharacteristic for their sound until now) but what really shines here is the addition of ethereal vocal lines provided by Kathryn Georgina De Beer who also did the painting on the albums cover.
Vocals & Instrumentation
Ashley De Beer’s vocals have also taken a somewhat different direction on I Labour – although perhaps not entirely on purpose. There is a new sense of urgency in his voice that lends the album a sincerity not as noticeable on either Choices or Sending The Hope Home (although you would never notice this without I Labour as a frame of reference). There has been progress in production of the vocals in that Ashley De Beer has often done overdubs of his own voice, resulting in bigger and badder versions of already powerful performances. As mentioned before, this album, as far as guitar work is concerned, is pared-down but Calvin Clayden still provides some moments of six-string indulgence like the melodic lines in ‘Live Through Hell’.
As is customary with any balanced review, I am obligated to give some low points of the album and I must stress that there are very few; the most pressing of which is that the album ends a little too soon and little too abruptly on ‘Weightless’. Perhaps that’s just me wanting more of the melodic vibes that have crept into I Labour.
In summation, Truth And Its Burden have created a solid album with a dynamic range that is unprecedented in their corpus and production that will be the envy of South African and international heavy acts alike. Having started the band in 2007, this album is one hell of a way to celebrate a decade of crushing live shows and positively geared music.
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