Beyond Grace – Our Kingdom Undone (Prosthetic Records)
These are boom times for UK death metal.
Well, ok, it’s not exactly Florida ’89 or Stockholm ’90.
But from a creative perspective, UKDM is in rude health.
With Venom Prison leading the charge and the likes of Celestial Sanctuary, Live Burial, Cryptic Shift and Coffin Mulch releasing monstrous albums over the last two years, the new wave of British death metal is turning heads on a global scale.
And with Our Kingdom Undone – the second full length from Beyond Grace – the scene just got that little bit stronger.
The Nottingham-based outfit have sculpted a hyperintelligent, technically outstanding and frankly fascinating piece of death metal.
It’s an album which takes aim at religious indoctrination, militarism and injustice. A record that shines an unforgiving light on our divided world.
2017’s Seekers showed that Beyond Grace could deliver vicious, catchy DM.
However, it’s obvious from the opening twists and turns of Dark Forest Doctrine, that the band are now operating on a different level.
The addition of second guitarist Chris Morley has been part of that progression… and there’s a freedom to the quintet’s writing that gives Our Kingdom Undone an organic dynamic, a feeling that every song has evolved – or indeed, mutated – into what it is meant to be.
If you’re looking for tech death flamboyance, over-digitised, plastic deathcore or mindless brutality, you’ll certainly need to stay clear.
Beyond Grace aren’t going to be straightjacketed within any one microscene…
Jackhammer riffs, rhythmic contortions, jaw dropping tempo shifts and shards of discordance all inhabit a churning sonic landscape.
And on the likes of Factions Speak Louder Than Words, the band conjure an unnerving, tense atmosphere without resorting to supernatural cliches.
Yet for all of the album’s density, there are some immense grooves – born somewhere between Birmingham and New York – just waiting to pounce: Barmecide Feast and Fearmonger boast some particularly devastating examples.
Some of this band’s contemporaries are happy with an overpowering, speaker slamming production.
Beyond Grace, however, have invested in a cleaner alternative.
It allows Andy Walmsley’s political and social invective to cut through and gives Morley and Tim Yearsley’s slick fretwork the chance to sparkle.
And in common with the masterworks of Atheist, Cynic and Death, the bass – courtesy of Andy Workman – bubbles and bursts across the record. Check out the title track of you want to hear Workman really working it…
Our Kingdom Undone goes above and beyond
So, Beyond Grace haven’t reconstructed Seekers and simply chucked in a few add-ons.
Nor have they hurtled off into the realms inhabited by Archspire or Rings Of Saturn.
Instead, they’ve bravely pursued their own vision.
A vision of expansive death metal, that is still anchored to the genre’s core tenets.
And on Our Kingdom Undone, that bravery has paid off.