Age of Vultures is Portuguese metallers Burn Damage's debut album - eight tracks of accessible groove metal indebted to former Roadrunner Records alumni Machine Head and Sepultura. Obviously it's not 1996 anymore so there are other flavours in this record, particularly Ines Freitas growling vocals (not that Max didn't do that too) which are as grim and guttural as any male larynx out there and the odd nod to Swedish death metal. However, the riffs tend towards the chunky and chuggy and the taut rhythms are straightforward with frequent Davidian aping breakdowns thrown in - it's all very recognisable.
The band have experienced the typical line-up travails since their formation having previously released an EP Reborn (which title-wise feels the wrong way round) in 2013. They retain one original member in the ranks, drummer Alexandre Gracio, steering the ship. The opening salvo of tunes on Age of Vultures cleave closely to a crunchy 90s style before Four Little Pigs ups the tempo with some thrash stylings. Slaughterhouse of Cowards lives up to that frankly excellent title and is the most death metal of the tracks with Ines' vocals collapsing into that equally loved and loathed pig squeal favoured of the deathcore crowd. The best track here is undoubtedly recent single Acid Rain with its apocalyptic narrative, Satyricon alike black n' roll groove and dissonant riffs.
Age of Vultures is a concise, well put together release but it doesn't stray far from some of the genre's most seminal sounds. With the presence of a woman at the microphone and the band's Portuguese nationality it's disappointing that Burn Damage don't sound that different from the band referenced but doing a good job shouldn't necessarily be a criticism. Given the crowded marketplace that is heavy metal in 2017 though, unique voices can be harder to find and all the more valuable for it.