The problem with integrity is that it frequently puts you at odds with popular trends. The easy path is always to simply follow others. But to create your own way using your instincts to guide you—rather than what outside influences dictate—takes fortitude. Denver melodic metal quartet Bury Manifold owes its origin to this very idea of staying true to a unified vision, regardless of what was happening in the musical mainstream. Though three of the four members—bassist Kelly Cox, drummer Benny Martinez and guitarist Justin Wilson—had been in a previous popular Denver band, they came together in 2006 with a completely different approach. “Our goal was to write songs that were closer to what we liked to listen to, as opposed to what happens to be popular,” guitarist Justin Wilson says about the band’s formation, “and if other people enjoyed it as well, then that would be a bonus in our eyes.”
The result of this reunion of three longtime musical partners was an immediate newfound chemistry. “It was so radically different than what we had been doing in previous bands,” says Wilson, “that we knew we were on to something special and should continue forward.” This meant finding a vocalist capable of solidifying that vision. Bobby McElhaney had never sung in a metal band before, but his incredible range and natural talent overcame any lack of experience. “Before Bobby arrived we were just three guys who played music together,” says Wilson. “The moment he joined Bury Manifold, we became a band.”
Nowhere is this more evident than on the band’s self-recorded, self-produced and self-released debut, At the Bottom of the Sky. McElhaney’s role in the band is not an easy one, as Bury Manifold’s songs frequently top the five-minute mark and are filled with complicated, progressive arrangements that bring to mind Tool, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and, in the band’s more extreme moments, Opeth. Nonetheless, his strong, confident voice—which transitions effortlessly from soaring highs to a growling roar—makes every track on At the Bottom of the Sky approachable. “We always wrote the songs with a singer in mind,” Wilson explains, “yet didn't know if a singer would see it the same way.” Clearly McElhaney does as he takes potentially challenging songs and makes them memorable.
Everything about At the Bottom of the Sky—from the incredible evocative cover art to the CD mastering by two-time Grammy winner Dave Glasser—reflects Bury Manifold’s approach to making uncompromised music. Wilson handled all of the digital recording expertly (without Pro Tools, no less, a rarity in modern home studios) and the entire band helped mix it. “What you hear on the album are complete takes exactly as we performed them,” says Wilson. “We're very proud to have recorded this album without the use of Pro Tools or anything of the like.” Bury Manifold may not be taking the easiest, most well-worn path, but theirs is ultimately more rewarding for both band and listeners. The band has recently parted ways with Bassist Kelly Cox and is currently seeking a replacement.