Review: “Southern Hostility” by Upon A Burning Body

Returning for their fifth studio album in 9 years, San Antonio Texas Metallers Upon A Burning Body worked for 2 months with Producer Christopher Mora and Guitarist Ruben Alvarez younger brother Thomas Alvarez (who is given a co-producer credit) on returning to their roots and making an album that injects fresh ideas into their sound. Having moved from their original Deathcore heavyweight roots and style shifted into their debut “The World Is Ours”, UABB have always been a band to reinvent their sound with 2014’s third album “The World Is My Enemy Now” seeing the band deliver a Slipknot esq backdrop soaked in Nu-Metal introspective lyrics to toxic levels. Fortunately their previous outing “Straight from the Barrio” was a welcome return to their Deathcore sound with some Attila inspired moments and saved the band from taking the nose dive into the sort of Ill Nino sound post debut album that…

…kicking off with the raging title track that says “We’re Back!” in 30 foot high billboard sign letters, the 60 second burst of breakdown and venomous vocals from Danny Leal that is “Southern Hostility” is exactly what the doctor ordered from the opening tune of any album. First single “King of Diamonds” brings the promised Southern Metal Grooves with a distinct sense of the Pantera influence in guitar work and lyrics as Leal screams “hear on the frontline it’s a war!”. It’s almost surprising that a breakdown appears in a song like this with its energetic lead flourishes and the fact that Guitarist Alvarez was once the bass player in this band is just a oddity given his obvious talents. Lyrically giving a sense of Southern pride and featuring a face melting solo “All Pride No Pain” has a fine bounce and groove. It’s introduction finger clicking that returns before a pre-breakdown closing moment is a piece of magic that the likes of Hell Yeah wish they’d thought of. The evaporation of ninety percent of the Nu-Metal introspective lyrics is a welcome change to the bands sound throughout the album even if there are hints at it.

Four songs deep and “From The Darkness” sees Danny Leal harnessing some inner James Hetfield with a very Metallica melody in the chorus that will no doubt be a sing-a-long at live shows should it get that far. It’s probably a chorus too long and sags in the middle, needing some fat trimming. But then maybe in the live arena it will be played 10 percent faster and that criticism will fade away. After all the aforementioned introspective lyrics “The Champ Is Coming” paints frontman Danny Leal as a boxer or wrestler, coming to knock your block off for talking schizzle. It even goes as far as having the sound of the ringside bell making an appearance. It’s a bit cheesy but a face melting solo brings it all together nicely while drummer Tito Felix delivers a stand out kit performance. Featuring a very Avenged Sevenfold riff “Burn” takes us in a slightly different direction musically without straying too far from the path. This is UABB’s first album with bassist Joe Antonellis in the fold and the bassline bleeding through the guitars at times gives this one a solid sounds. It does nothing new but it’s still a good mid-album cut. Giving us Danny Leal’s finest vocal performance “Reinventing Hatred” sees him reach the kind of depths that we saw with the bands finest moment in 2012’s “Red.White.Green” album. Just touching the edges of Deathcore with his vocals and showing that he can still do it. Musically, the song is a Melodic Deathcore cut with an overlay dialogue of Southern Groove Metal guitars that is quite refreshing.

Taking an opposing vocal moment “Never Alone” features some higher pitched vocals in places that we’ve never heard from Leal before for the “Never Alone” part. It also cuts up some more Avenged Sevenfold esq guitar work with some of those Pantera inspirations to deliver something that works but isn’t necessarily identifiable as UABB. Then comes the “Red.White.Green” throwback tune “Anthem of the Doomed”. It’s socially and politically aware lyrical content is something we rarely get from Leal and yet when he does it, he does it so well. Talking about the death of the planet at the hands of mankinds actions, it’s a powerful sentiment that is driven home by standout musicanship from the rest of the band as well as Leal himself giving one of the finest vocal performances here. Ending on a high “Soul Searcher” impressed with some glorious lead flourishes across breakdown sections that give a menace and bite. It’s a fine moment to end on and ensures that you’re left with a sense of the album being a solid one. Which it is. It just has a few songs which could use a chorus or verse cut to save repeating itself unnecessary. “Red.White.Green” still remains the album highlight in the career of Upon A Burning Body, but this album is still a solid interpretation of the Southern Metal Groove sound and is worth checking out [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Southern Hostility
  2. King of Diamonds
  3. All Pride No Pain
  4. From The Darkness
  5. The Champ Is Coming
  6. Burn
  7. Reinventing Hatred
  8. Never Alone
  9. Anthem of the Doomed
  10. Soul Searcher

“Southern Hostility” by Upon A Burning Body is out now via Seek And Strike and available over at bandcamp

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