My friend and NCS colleague Andy Synn is the vocalist for Beyond Grace. My objectivity about the band’s new EP, Monstrous, could therefore be called into question. But the truth (so help me Satan) is that I’m writing about it for the same reason I write about every other song, EP, or album I choose to write about: I’m enthusiastic about the music. (Andy, by the way, doesn’t even know I’ve written this review.)
The three songs on Monstrous represent a change of course for this band formerly called Bloodguard, so if you happen to be familiar with their work, its time to turn the page and listen again. What you will hear is something like Spawn of Possession with more convulsive grooves, or Blotted Science with unexpected digressions and more sharp teeth, or The Black Dahlia Murder with an added progressive bent.
If you’re up on those references, then you may be ready for the combination of jabbing, jamming riffs, serpentine melodies, sparkling solos, and an enveloping atmosphere of alien menace that make up Monstrous.
“The Chronophage” pounds, scours, and rips, with dissonant refrains and a shrill invasive solo that segues into a surprising melodic interlude. “Inhumanity” bolts from the start with a punchy rhythm and jabbing, jumping, swarming guitar work. Technically impressive, its off-world melodies fly at the listener like the inhabitants of a wasp’s nest suddenly engulfed in flames.
The final song, “Invasive Exotics”, launches with a flickering, jolting riff frenzy, energized by bursts of machine-gun percussion and insectile guitar work. Oh, but there’s a big surprise coming — a soulful, jazzy instrumental break that will push you off-balance before the song erupts again in a whirlwind of flying notes and acrobatic beats.
And Andy’s vocals are as borderline unhinged and dynamic as the chaotic instrumental performances, jumping from pit-bull barks to menacing growls to rabid howls and hair-raising shrieks. And in person he seems like such an urbane, well-mannered young gentleman, even after a few pints of Immortal. Who knew?
So… listen to Monstrous below, and if you like it as much as I do, plunk down your money at the Beyond Grace Bandcamp site. The stupendously grotesque artwork, by the way, was created by Dan White Graphic Design.