Editors' Notes Such is the emotional weight of Cannibal, the sixth studio album from British metalcore band Bury Tomorrow, that frontman Dani Winter-Bates had moments of doubt about whether they should be releasing it at all. Detailing the depths of his own mental health struggles, Cannibal presents as a record of unbridled intensity, both musically and thematically. Though, away from music, the vocalist has long worked a career in the NHS and even organised safe-space workshops for fans to discuss their own issues, it wasn’t until recently that he felt ready to detail his own battles. “Truthfully, in the past, I don’t think I was well enough to have properly addressed what I have gone through,” Winter-Bates tells Apple Music. “But in sitting down to write this album, I felt I had reached a point where it was time for me to articulate my own journey to people.” In doing so, he hopes listeners can look past the darkness that engulfs the album to find a comfort in the nakedness of his most mature songwriting yet. “Going through the process has given me a really strong understanding of my resilience, but also where I need support in my journey. If people can take one thing from it, take that you’re not alone.” Here, Winter-Bates takes us through that process, track by track.

Choke
“The album’s opening lyric is one that really resonates with me, and which sets up what you’re coming in for on the record: ‘Sick of hiding the truth/Fucking lying to you.’ As brash as it is, it reveals that I’m opening the book and telling you something honest and meaningful now. I wrote that line very early on in the process. I tend to live by the notion that you shouldn’t always dismiss your first idea, because it can often be your best. I think it really encapsulates what the album is about.”

Cannibal
“As the title track for the record, this thematically really tells the story of the album, and musically is also very representative of what Bury Tomorrow is about—past, present and future. It was actually one of the latter songs I wrote, and it works through my personal timeline in song. As a species we eat away at other humans in the way we treat each other, and the manner that we treat ourselves eats away at our own mental and physical health. I felt it was important to present these important themes as openly as possible, and not to wrap them in metaphor. It would be negligent to do that, almost.”

The Grey (VIXI)
“I believe this song takes the band to a whole new place. It has an off-time, waltz-like feel to it that provides space to think, which I believe is a real key to getting people to truly listen to the meaning of the song. We’ve felt a really deep connection with our fans through this song. ‘VIXI’—‘I have lived’ in Latin—really struck a chord with me, and was something I’d noted down a good six months before I got to writing this song. It connected with me in the darkest moments. What have I lived? What have I achieved? If I were to ‘go to the grey’, what would people say about me? The lyrics in the breakdown have a nod to mindfulness, of which reconnecting to nature and understanding our core purpose is a big thing. A lot of people find a solace in that.”

Imposter
“Imposter syndrome is something I both live with and also teach leadership groups on. It’s the feeling that you’re going to get caught out in what you’re doing. You could be the top-tier data analyst in the world yet feel like you can’t even open a spreadsheet; you could be a revered musician who has had every accolade thrust upon them, but still feel like you’re phoning it in every night onstage. The song builds to a frantic breakdown that reflects reaching the point where you simply want to remove your brain in order to be free of these thoughts. It’s a condition that particularly affects aspirational people—it preys on the vulnerability of people who want to further themselves or progress. I’ve had it with my vocals, but I have also really noticed it in my professional work with the NHS. I’m not someone who took the traditional route of education or a degree with my career, and that leads your mind to prey that people might be judging you for it.”

Better Below
“This song finds me at my most vulnerable, and is the most honest song I have ever written. It outright calls myself out for hiding warning signs and symptoms of my depreciating mental health. I want the song to be a discussion of how someone can end up feeling this way about themselves. It has plenty of ‘space’, and the space allows us to bring more emotive feel to the song. It’s interesting for us to place our most brutal lyrics and place them within the most melodic song on the record; it really shows the place I was in–or am still in now, even, as the lyrics are written in the present participle.”

The Agonist
“The worst part about anxiety is something called scanning, where your brain is actively looking for something to be anxious about. Subconsciously we look for these situations that lead you to have such debilitating feelings. We almost put ourselves in the piranha tank, knowingly or otherwise, and expect not to get bitten. I think ‘The Agonist’ is a reflection of what it’s like to be disenfranchised from your own mind, and to live with those feelings constantly.”

Quake
“‘Quake’ is probably the only song on the record that is wrapped in a metaphor. I wanted to talk about that snap from reality to breaking point, from stability to instability; the feeling of your world being shook and being thrust into chaos. The only way I could to really convey that was as an earthquake. From my own journey, I was living my life, walking along—and then one day, suddenly the world opened up and swallowed me. I think for a lot of people, that is the reality of mental health problems. It makes it a hard thing to recover from, too. Without that validating moment, almost, of a traumatic event, it can be really difficult to understand. There’s a guilt attached to it, even.”

Gods & Machines
“This continues the theme of ‘The Agonist’, about putting ourselves into positions to then be destroyed by them, and relates in particular to the digital world and social media. These things have almost taken over as the new religion, and we’ve lost a sense of these things being designed to connect with people. The facelessness of the digital age has bred a level of incivility and unkindness that can kill people. The term ‘trolling’ frustrates me a great deal because it’s putting a juvenile face on something that can ruin someone’s well-being. We’re never going to win a battle to change the world we’re in, but we can educate people on the impact of these things on their lives, and how to be kinder to people as a whole.”

Voice & Truth
“The freeing nature of truthfulness and honesty is really, really important, certainly from a mental health perspective. It gives you vulnerability, and vulnerability, I believe, is power. Suppressing that has a detrimental impact upon a person, while in lying and behaving in an uncivil way to others, you are a contributing factor to what that person goes through as a result. It’s one of the most aggressive, savage songs on the record.”

Cold Sleep
“This is another particularly brutal song. When we were going through the record, the guys were like, ‘Really? Another brutal one?’ and I said, ‘That’s what this is like, it’s not a nice journey.’ ‘Cold Sleep’ as a title has obvious connotations, but for me it’s also representative of that feeling of lying in bed, being unsure of whether you are able to face what’s going to happen when you wake up—or even if you want to.”

Dark, Infinite
“I’m expecting this song in particular to be a tough listen for people. I can hear the emotion in my voice from when I was recording this; I can hear the cracks and imperfections, where I’m hitting a certain emotional depth. Ending the record in such a dark place, rather than closing it out with a more hopeful song, demonstrates that this struggle isn’t an isolated experience–I will have these feelings, ups and downs, for life. It’s very grounded in that reality. It’s a message I want to stay with people long after the record is over.”

SONG
Choke
1
3:47
 
Cannibal
2
4:15
 
The Grey (VIXI)
3
3:58
 
Imposter
4
3:27
 
Better Below
5
3:12
 
The Agonist
6
4:02
 
Quake
7
4:25
 
Gods & Machines
8
4:05
 
Voice & Truth
9
3:06
 
Cold Sleep
10
3:39
 
Dark, Infinite
11
4:01
 

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