After a 2016 debut mostly consisting of doomy NWOBHM worship, BUS’s second full-length Never Decide opts for a slightly different direction. One can still hear remnants of that influence, but they seem to draw from a wider reference pool this time around. The upbeat moments are more reminiscent of psychedelia than heavy metal and a greater number of slow songs pushes those doom tinges to the forefront. There’s still plenty of Angel Witch and Iron Maiden here, but I hear way more Uncle Acid and Pagan Altar.
Fortunately, the band doesn’t have to adjust their dynamic that dramatically to make the style shift work. While the vocals are at a more echoing distance in the mix and the guitar tone is darker, the former still have that endearingly nasal tunefulness while the latter put in plenty of bouncy riffs and classic harmonies. The drums do seem a little stiff at times, but there’s no denying that they still fit in and are played well.
While I had some trepidation with the single choices at first, the songwriting is quite enjoyable. A battle of light and dark is seemingly at play as upbeat tracks like the opening “You Better Come in You Better Calm Down” and “Moonchild” are offset by the slow occult ventures like “The Hunt” and “Lucifer.” There are even a few go-betweens with “I Buried Paul” in particular having a sinister playfulness that feels like a doom answer to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” while “Into the Night” and “This King” exude creepiness at a chugging pace.
While The Unknown Secretary felt more doom in “spirit” than actual construction, BUS lets loose a true doom record with Never Decide. In a way similar to Lucifer’s II, adding occult rock elements to the group’s NWOBHM style works in their favor. The band knows how to write songs utilizing the different flavors and the performances are consistent. It’s a little frontloaded and BUS’s debut album is arguably more accessible, but Never Decide is definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes their rock fun and spooky.
“I Buried Paul”