I was prepared to toss this one into the metalcore overflow bin, even though the press quote states: "Expect influences that range from EXTOL to MESHUGGAH, OPETH to ENTOMBED, and BREACH to BURST." One should always take such grandiose statements with a grain of salt anyway. In the case of "Burn the Flags" by Sweden's BY NIGHT, it's only a slight exaggeration (i.e. OPETH). It's true that the Swedish melodic death/thrash metal and slight hardcore elements are present, but those elements are twisted into a form that is wholly BY NIGHT's.
The listen will be a hard one for some the first time through, the style identity not immediately apparent. The choppy (and incredibly crushing) riffs, and, yes, MESHUGGAH-like rhythms (not to mention the harsh shout vocals) are bruising and abrasive. Second and subsequent listens allow one to recognize depth in the arrangements and just a hint of accessibility, sheer brutality aside ("Raise Your Voice" and "Completed" being two that come to mind). Given the somewhat progressive feel of the disc, the odd rhythms, and the Swedish hardcore-influenced thrash bits (more feeling that outright style), some kind of combination of AT THE GATES and MESHUGGAH might be an apt comparison.
The sound mix on "Burn the Flags" is monstrous. A VERY heavy and ear-splitting recording, the cutting riffs are massive and the painful body blows disguised as drumming will leave welts. Adrian Westin's Peter-Dolving-on-meth vocals are out front in the mix and extremely aggressive. His vocal patterns don't change much, yet work well for BY NIGHT's music assault and battery.
Twelve or thirteen tunes might have made an already nerve-wracking experience unbearable (for some anyway), but nine is about perfect. When you toss in an instrumental toward the end of the album ("At the End of the Day") that features a more subdued riff chug and drum beat, presumably synth-generated strings, and a series of newscast clips, the style break is effective. Brief guitar harmonies that jump out of the mix provide a nice contrast to the otherwise vicious mix on "Unseen Oppression", and also serve to provide a few seconds to regain composure. In short, "Burn the Flags" is a solid release from a band that finds joy in the infliction of pain and appears to have more than a few tricks up its collective sleeve.