ALBUM REVIEW: Berried Alive – Fuego

Release Date: May 15th 2020
Label: Berried Alive Productions
Website: www.berriedaliveofficial.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/berriedalivemn
Twitter: www.twitter.com/caswellcharles

Rating:

For context: Berried Alive is the husband/wife internet based collaborative project of Charles and Kaylie Caswell. They’re self-funded, they don’t tour, and the main goal appears to be free creativity.

These are all mitigating factors that should be taken into account when delving into ‘Fuego’, the duo’s fourth full-length.

With no intention of playing live, and no label or audience demands to meet, the Caswells are totally untethered from any restrictions. This, sadly, means very little. For starters, the project is little more than a guitar-centric affair. Charles Caswell is a very, very capable musician. His virtuosic soloing and strong riffs are of prestige quality. Having collaborated with the likes of Josh Travis (Emmure/ex-Glass Cloud), it’s clear he’s got chops and connections.

Berried Alive functions as little more than background noise for Charles to flex his guitar skills. Sterile and repetitive drum programming and awful growled vocals berried (get it?) under walls of compression with uninspired, vapid lyrics amounting to plenty of repetitions of “fuck you”. Kaylie, his partner in the endeavour, provides bass, which is usually redundant to this class of bedroom prog/chugfest one-man bands, and here is no exception.

The few intriguing moments come in the guise of the ambient, electronic segments, complete with surprisingly subtle clean vocals. These are few and far between, however, and become ultimately more detrimental to the album as they regularly signal the untapped potential a lot of this material has.

While there’s no denying the prowess of either Caswell, ability doesn’t always equate to scope or vision. Some band mates and diverse input would be greatly beneficial while admittedly negating the original ethos of the project. That’s a crossroads only they know how to cross.

In their current form, ‘Fuego’ is a hollow, artificial mess, like multiple track stems being opened and played at random for three-minute flashes, sadly amounting to nothing cohesive or coherent.