The image of a golden heart amidst black roses which welcomes listeners to the new EP by the Quebec-based death metal band Upon Your Grave isn’t just appropriate for the EP’s title — Gold & Decay — it also meshes with some of the music’s manifold ingredients. There’s head-spinning brilliance in these five songs, but also a surrounding yet alluring darkness in some of the melodies.
But the cover doesn’t clue you in to all of the ingredients, most prominently the fact that in this EP Upon Your Grave routinely inflict the kind of brutally obliterating beatings and unchained demolition work that spawns images of shattered bones and buildings reduced to rubble. And while there are moments that are mesmerizing, the main probable effect of the EP will be to leave people hyperventilated and gasping.
About the only time to breathe comes at the very beginning, where “Revived” presents a spellbinding acoustic guitar instrumental accented by the occasional boom of drums.
And then “From Beyond” banishes the brief spell with high-speed jackhammer grooves, bursts of feverishly vicious fretwork, and inflamed growls. It’s a brutish onslaught, but the band take it on twists and turns too, infiltrating fluid but grieving melodies, exploding in blast-beat-driven chaos, spinning out darting fretwork flurries, and providing a swirling, spectacular guitar solo. The vocals change as well, descending into gargantuan abyssal growls and erupting in hair-raising screams.
That song provides an adrenaline-fueling display of Upon Your Grave‘s multi-faceted songwriting bent, technical acumen, and wide-ranging vocal barbarism. Those ingredients, along with a powerhouse production that makes the sounds both crushing and clear, come through again and again in the following tracks.
“Pandora” packs perhaps the most traumatizing punch, bringing some megaton detonations into play, while “Supremacy” may be the most berserk, running the listener through a gauntlet of crazed shrieks and maniacally jittering and blaring riffage that comes in bursts — backed, of course, by nimble but devastating drumwork and featuring another guitar solo that’s even more eye-popping than the one in “From Beyond“.
It’s quite clear from the first four songs that the band operate their musical machine with big turbochargers, with a goal of spurring your pulse into life and keeping it at an elevated rate, while simultaneously giving your head lots of swift spins. But the dystopian closer, “Transcend” (which was heavily inspired by Ghost in the Shell and cyberpunk elements), may be the most unhinged infliction of violent obliteration and savage vocal delirium of them all.
Though it brings down brutish, hammering pile-drivers on the skull and spits bullets too, the maniacal screams, noxious gurgling sounds, thoroughly crazed fretwork, and shred-tastic soloing make sure there won’t be time for any deep breaths during “Transcend” before the EP ends. And yes, this solo, which is both gloriously melodic and incendiary, is probably the best of them all. No wonder that lead guitarist Sim Diamond made it to the Toronto finals of Sam Dunn’s Shredders of Metal season 1.
Learn for yourselves through our premiere of the entire EP — but oxygenate your blood before you begin this thrill-ride:
It turns out that the EP’s cover art has more meanings than the ones we deduced. Here’s a comment about the EP by vocalist Jordan Jolicoeur:
The theme exposes the duality of beauty and horror and their relation to each other. Nothing is black or white, everything is a nuance of grey living independently in every distinct mind. The heart also represents the revival of the band from the ashes, beating a creative flow in each of our personal lives. The golden heart also represents the power of creativity unphased by the passing of time and the withering of leaves. Instead beating stronger and renewed like the passing seasons. It’s creative, aggressive, and more mature than any other effort we put out until now.
Gold & Decay is the band’s first full release since their 2013 debut album Eponym, and so does indeed represent a rebirth. That cover art was created by Meike Hakkaart, and Cryptopsy‘s Chris Donaldson recorded, mixed, and mastered it. It will be released on October 7th, and comes recommended for fans of Daath, Lamb Of God, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Absence, and Decapitated.
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