Scrawl from The Saw’s Butcher Shop: Burned in Effigy — Rex Mortem (2022) ALBUM REVIEW

What’s up, Butcher Crew?! The Saw has, quite honestly, stumbled on to a new band, with a new record drop. I was just perusing my Metal sources to see what was going on in the universe, and I found a brand-new “Neo-Classical” Melodic Death Metal band out of Chicago, IL.

Burned in Effigy dropped an instrumental EP in 2017 to introduce the world to its incredible abilities. Now, on January 28, 2022, the band has self-released Rex Mortem,an interesting record showcasing (once again) their incredible musicianship, but also (as of 2019) their new vocalist, Mark “Smedy” Smedbron. The new release is available on all streaming services and Burned in Effigy’s bandcamp page.

So, the “Neo-Classical” description, first, got my attention. The Saw, as you know, is a categorical thinker. But it would appear that, now, we are cataloging within our categories. Apparently, it is not enough to have a category in which to place a band’s sound, but we also must further catalog that sound within a category. I think this is as a result of band’s ever-expanding sound to escape the proverbial box of a genre and/or category. I’m cool with that! But The Saw will still attempt to categorize! It’s how my mind works!

Burned in Effigy is an excellent band with very talented members. Rex Mortem (Latin for, “Death of a King;” see, my 3 years of Latin doing work!) is a solid record that combines aspects of metalcore structure, melodic riffs and solos of Death Metal, with that Neo-Classic arrangement that really marks Rex Mortem as something particular in the Metal Universe. “Smedy” utilizes a sort of duel vocal pattern and style; almost a Black Metal rasp, with seamless change-overs to a more Death Metal style gutteral (though not completely).

Rex Mortem tells a story, almost like a concept record, of kings, villages, and socio interactions of the people. The “Neo-Classic” aspect shows itself in nearly all the songs with tempo changes that showcase the two guitarists ability to do math. This does not short the rhythm section either – the bass and drums are excellent and blend in their craft beautifully. The choice to add vocals over this on this record is well made. And Smedy’s style is very appealing to the Extreme Metal ear.

And even more fascinating is the song arrangement on Rex Mortem. The record comes in under 30 minutes with 8 tracks. The opener, “Doomsayer” sets the pace for the brilliant sounds to come. It is pure Melodic Death Metal, with that Neo-Classic stamp. “Artorias” follows, and is more of an old school metalcore riff (think, old As I Lay Dying). “Nightfall” begins with a Neo-Classic intro and carries the technical riff all the way through. It, too, has that metalcore feel. “The Empiricist” has a lofty Melodic Death Metal riff, layered with the Neo-Classical in solo work (very Arch Enemy feeling). “Hades” is a banger! Faster paced, with interesting melodic time changes; then spreads out to a metalcore structure, and back to the opening riff. “Atlas” is a solid metalcore track. Smedy’s vocals (in all the songs), and the Neo-Classic influence, are what holds the tracks, keeping them from falling all the way into a certain category. “Treachery” is (probably) the most Neo-Classical/Melodeath on the record. When the main riff is Neo/Melodic, you’ve really done some structuring magic. And then, the last song, “Vendetta,” is something different altogether. The structure and arrangement is a quick paced melody with the Neo-Classical component playing a more straightforward Metal role. I would expect to hear this song on an Arch Enemy record.

Rumor has it that the two guitarists left the band after recording Rex Mortem. They played such a huge roll in the sound of Burned in Effigy. I hope the band gets straight, because this is really good stuff.

Rating: 8/10!! Guitars driven album with an excellent rhythm section and interesting vocalist.

Favorite Songs: Doomsayer; Nightfall; Hades; Treachery

Stay Metal,