If you were unaware of Upon A Burning Body, then from the cover art (a cow skull tattooed on leather) and album title there is a good chance you would believe you were going to get a collection of Pantera-inspired groove-laden metal. However, despite the band’s claim to have taken inspiration from the aforementioned and Metallica for this effort, you would be wrong. Sure, there is the odd Pantera-inspired riff, but for the most part, it is more of the same mix of metalcore and deathcore the band have exhibited on their previous studio efforts.
There is nothing wrong with this per se, but it does feel odd. So does the self-titled curveball opener – a short, violent blast of deathcore clocking in a just over a minute, which you would think might set the tempo for the album but doesn’t. The bulk of the tracks follow a solidly metalcore template, a template that has been done to death. Since its rise in the mid-00s, metalcore has become probably the most overcrowded metal sub-genre there is.
So do Upon a Burning Body distinguish themselves from the very large metalcore crowd? Not so much. Which is not to say there is not good stuff here, there is. Take lead single King of Diamonds, probably the best track here, which is a metal stomper featuring all the guitar crunch and breakdowns fans of the subgenre will appreciate. At the same time, however, it does feel heavily indebted to Lamb of God. The same thing could be said of some of the other stronger efforts here like All Pride, No Pain and The Champ is Coming.
These songs all feature on the first half of a record which at this point is shaping up to be a solid if unspectacular effort. However, the second half does not match the first. Sure, the band might not be winning any points for originality over the first five songs, but at least they are pretty fun tracks. The next five, however, range from mediocre to downright turgid, with the album’s low point coming on Anthem of the Doomed. It sounds like it could be a Suicide Silence off-cut and is musically every bit as lazy and on the nose as the title.
The album does at least finish on something of a high, however, when the group leave us with a metalled-up version of Alice Cooper’s early 90s hit Feed my Frankenstein. It’s a fun cover, if entirely inessential, which pretty much sums things up.