Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Upon a Burning Body - Red. White. Green.

Upon a Burning Body is a fairly new deathcore band that is signed on to the extremely well-known Sumerian Records. For those of you that don’t know about Sumerian Records, they’re known for signing a fairly wide range of artists all the way from screamo to progressive metal to technical death which includes The Faceless, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris, I See Stars, After the Burial, Asking Alexandria, and Periphery. One of the artists on their roster is one that is mainly only known amongst the deathcore crowd, Upon a Burning Body. I haven’t heard anything special about these guys from other critics, but since I’ve been surprised by Sumerian Records before, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to give these guys a listen.

The general theme of this album is well…Latino, Mexican, and Texan pride. For some people, this is a relief since it’s basically a break from the typical hate/anger-oriented themes found in the deathcore genre that was pioneered by bands like All Shall Perish, Despised Icon, Lamb of God, and Heaven Shall Burn. So since the lyrics and general themes seem to be more up-beat, I guess the band is taking an approach similar to what Attila is known for.

But unlike a lot of people, lyrics and themes aren’t going to cut it for me. I couldn’t possibly care any less what the lyrics are about. Since the majority of deathcore bands seem to be doing (almost) the exact same thing, I’m looking for a band that could be appropriately be considered a black sheep. I’m looking for a band that either does something different/new or does what everyone else is doing, but better. One thing that I’ve noticed for sure, this isn’t a disaster in any way. And Upon a Burning Body has a better chance of succeeding because they’re creating music in a much underused territory (when speaking of DEATHCORE). What I’m talking about is combining the extremely energetic metalcore and hardcore punk elements and combining it with the generic deathcore sound. This kind of sound can be heard in Bring me the Horizon’s Suicide Season and Attila’s Outlawed (I’m positive that there’s more of it out there that I don’t know about). But this sound is most commonly found in the really heavy metalcore bands like Struc/tures and Architects.

This album has a shitload of energy, there’s no denying that. But I’m looking for a band that wants to do it better than its predecessors (or at least TRIES to). People have long-since figured out that the breakdowns are where the energy level reaches its pinnacle. It’s sort of obvious, whether someone likes them or not, it’s hard not to feel the explosive release of all the energy built up in the song. It’s when you start having breakdowns with little or no buildup at all where there’s a problem. I don’t give a fuck who did this first because I can’t stand either of these bands, but The Acacia Strain and Emmure saw that there was a lot of people that listened to deathcore in anticipation for the breakdowns; the breakdowns were where the fans would go absolutely nuts. So these bands decided to go with what was popular and said to themselves “If breakdowns are what the people are liking, then why don’t we just play breakdowns with occasional fillers?” Well, they did get the logic right because…well…look at how fucking famous both of those bands are! Emmure has had HUGE bands like Despised Icon, Winds of Plague, blessthefall, Born of Osiris, All Shall Perish, AND Iwrestledabearonce as OPENING acts! This sound, when combined with the more melodic sound of August Burns Red creates the modern (and unfortunately stereotypical) metalcore sound. But when you take that sound, take out the singing, and turn up the crunchiness and heaviness factor, you get a type of deathcore that’s still very new, but that’s growing at a horrifying rate.

Although it’s extremely catchy, the song structure is disappointingly simple and takes the fun out of anticipation. I even found myself ACCURATELY guessing the exact breakdown pattern before it even started! Even in the one song that actually grabbed my attention, Sin City. It starts out with this really cool soft guitar intro which then leads into the exact chugging breakdown pattern that I was expecting. One thing that I was surprised to hear was that in some parts there were some really moving parts that were created specifically to start a mosh pit. But all throughout the album, the band just makes it way too obvious when they’re about to play another breakdown. Fortunately, the band manages to maintain a high energy level for the duration of the album, so it’s not like the breakdowns are dull and without energy due to virtually no buildup. But it still takes the fun out of it for me and basically abuses and overuses the breakdown.

The bassist is the worst member of the band. He’s not tight with the drummer like he’s supposed to be, he’s not even tight with the guitars! There are some really tight breakdowns where he obviously practiced and managed to stay with the rest of the band. But it seems that he didn’t put much dedication and practice into EVERYTHING. Now this is JUST A GUESS, but I’m pretty sure that the producer of this album was also the producer for Struc/tures’ debut full-length because the guitar distortions sound IDENTICAL. They’re both EXTREMELY loud, very crunchy and have a really thick distortion; and the guitar distortions do nothing short of amplifying the energy level.

The drummer is where the true talent in this band lies. The kick drumming is fantastic; he likes to keep things interesting by switching back and forth between complex and simple fills. If your stereo has A LOT of bass or good subwoofers, his blast beats feel like a stampede of wildebeests pummeling you into the dirt. The vocalist uses a combination of deepish growls, screams, and really dirty yells (which could probably be easily considered really high growls). This album has grit, it has energy, and it has catch. But it still manages to leave the listener unsatisfied and empty. Basically, it’s all icing, but no cake. I would give this album 11/20 for having good qualities, one good song, good drumming, no bad qualities, but no satisfying traits what so ever.