Upon A Burning Body
Red. White. Green.
Upon A Burning Body is the band heavy music - truly heavy music - has been missing. As far as newer metal bands go... I have been feeling there has been a major void - starving for someone who would do it right and interestingly.
Even the previous album by UABB had me blown away when I finally heard it. Upon blended some intensely technical musicianship; simply executed, insanely heavy parts; excellent vocals - ranging from low guttural range to middle range rasp, into higher screams. Anthemic, catchy screamed parts being a recurring theme in many of the tracks. If one had to be comparative to genre or bands, I feel one could say Upon blends moments of both technically-proficient, newer European-style death metal and simplified Tampa-style death metal; a bit of Melodic Death; the best moments of what metal anthemic, heavy bands like Pantera started off with as their main component; and a hint of hardcore's aggression and simplicity.
With the new effort Red, White, Green - I am floored.
This new album is the next logical evolution of where Upon A Burning Body needed to go to rise above the crop. The maturity of everything with this new album from the previous is the sort of leap multiple albums gives a band - and they just did it in one. The song writing has progressed, the parts in the songs have been streamlined, the musicianship has been elevated to a higher level. Musically, Upon A Burning Body sounds like Upon A Burning Body now - their previous album was fantastic, but the new record displays more so a singularity of direction. This album crushes the competition.
Danny delivers a truly impressive range of diversity in his vocals: he can get low in the death metal territory, shrieky in black metal-range, but now - he has some singing in there. The singing parts on "Texas Blood Money" have evolved so much of what UABB has been doing - with this leap, one wonders how great he's going to be in a few years when this singing style is even further developed. The melodic sensibility that is peppered occasionally throughout the brutality create some serious hooks. His shouting "speech" in the track around the first minute is so emotive, you can hear the aggression rattling off his vocal cords. The hooks Danny pulls off in screaming create some seriously memorable vocal anthems. The "life sucks and then you die" in "Sin City" makes you want to smash whoever is next to you - the answer line of "so live it up, who gives a fuck..." again displays that uniqueness of Danny's vocals. I love that that one part is single-tracked, and so indicative and convincing of what the message is. The occasional, quick bursts of rhythmic patterns in the lyrics have a nice staccato-attack as well, like in "Once Upon A Time."
The "breakdowns" that Upon do are done so much better than all of what could be considered as their modern peers. The juxtaposition of technicality into simplified chugging creates quite intense dimensions, mainly due to the fact that Upon can actually play. UABB performs damn well live - and the band looks cool as fuck to boot; wearing a sort of gangster-esque vest/suit look on stage. The representation of their Mexican roots is proudly displayed in "El Mariachi" and the album title itself, and musically amidst the controlled chaos, you can at times picture the blazing San Antonio sun and desert the band hails from. Upon has redefined what Texas sounds like.
This band is not for the faint of heart. Upon's new album is relentless - the playing has everything the tech-nerds could ever want, the vocals and lyrics are anthemic (again, look at "Texas Blood Money" - that is some damn catchy stuff), the heavy parts are so fucking heavy... done so damn well... that right now - I can confidently say there is no one doing "breakdowns" like this (I use quotes this time around because you wouldn't call the ending to "By Demons Be Driven" a breakdown) - their heavy parts are performed tastefully, done when necessary and used to accentuate the song... Not just to flaunt a random heavy-part.
I'll say it again - Upon A Burning Body is the band that truly heavy music has been missing... "Red. White. Green." proves they have what it takes.