UPON A BURNING BODY - Southern Hostility (Album)
The name of the band and the title of the album should give you a clear heads up as to what to expect from San Antonio, Texas’ UPON A BURNING BODY. They are purveyors of circle pit friendly, fast paced, down and dirty metal. They have been since they formed in 2005 and they wear their Mexican heritage and southern roots with a serious level of pride.
They have rapidly grown in popularity over the course of the last 4 albums (2012’s ‘Red. White. Green’ being the catalyst for the start of that rise). I got in to them on the back of 2014’s ‘The World is My Enemy Now’ having had my interest piqued by a poorly received but very effective publicity stunt in which they claimed frontman Danny Leal was missing, before revealing him safe and well, along with the album artwork. Tasteless yes. Effective…Also, yes. The album was awash with huge riffs, speedy drumming and plenty of middle fingers from frontman Leal. Yes please…I’ll have me some of that!
The current line-up (Danny Leal – Vocals, Ruben Alvarez – Guitars and Backing Vocals, Tito Felix – Drums/percussion and Joe Antonellis) are on their second album together after 2016’s well received ‘Straight from the Barrio’. They’ve taken a step back and decided that heavy is their thing with ‘Southern Hostility’ and I agree…It certainly is.
‘Southern Hostility’ opens the album up. It’s an intro track, but your made to feel very welcome early doors as Leal scream “F*** Hospitality, this is Southern Hostility” amidst a dissonant drone of guitars in the background. The track runs straight in to ‘King of Diamonds’ which is a kind of call to arms with the chorus of “Here on the frontline it’s a war, never forget what your fighting for”. UABB are famed for the slow and low breakdowns and you get one early doors here too before a Slayer inspired solo from Alvarez cuts through.
Next up is ‘All Pride, No Pain’. Songs like this are Leal’s trademark lyrically. He regularly uses personal battles and never giving up, showing your strength etc etc as groundwork for UABB’s work. A chorus of “Fear none, show strength, I won’t give up on you, your life, your name, all pride, no pain” is a strong show of this theme.
‘From Darkness’ kicks in with a big riff and pounding drums from Felix. One thing that drew me to ‘The World Is My Enemy now’ is the quality of his drumming. Speed is one thing, precision with that speed is another, and Felix has both in abundance. UABB aren’t just good on record, they’re a great live band as well, driven by Felix’s abilities behind his kit. This song also contains the first real trace of cleaner vocals. They’re usually delivered by both Alvarez and Leal, which gives them a gritty edge. This is something I do enjoy about modern metal and UABB use it very well in their material.
‘The Champ is Coming’ is a stomp along tune, slower in tempo than everything before it, focusing more on the headbanging, horns in the air variety of metal rather than the wind milling hair type of speed metal and ‘Burn’ has a whiff of Metallica about the main riff which is something UABB also do well in their material. They near enough copy something another band does, whether it’s a melody or a riff or a drum pattern and put their own spin on it. In their albums I’ve heard traces of Slipknot, Pantera and Lamb of God amongst many others. It isn’t a rip off, not even close. Think of it as a musical tip o’ the hat to the musicians that inspire them. It’s very tasteful, in my opinion.
‘Reinventing Hatred’ is a close to Death Metal as we’re getting on this record. It’s a pummelling cacophony of low grunted vocals, jarring riffs and blast beats. By far the heaviest thing on offer through the 10 tracks. ‘Never Alone’ by comparison is much more melodic tune, guitar harmonies throughout and clean vocals towards the end. ‘The Anthem of the Doomed’ is a depressing but brutally honest assessment of the state of the world referencing money, greed, pollution and everything in between. All of this between sludgy pounding riffs and thunderous bass.
Closer ‘Soul Searcher’ is a thrash tinged track, drawing in all of UABB’s influences, including the clean vocals of metalcore, the blast beats of death metal and the stomp along riffs of classic metal.
31 minutes is all it lasts. Less than a half of football. Just about more than your average sitcom on TV. And what do you get for a it? The feeling that you have been kicked firmly in the side of the head.
UPON A BURNING BODY have not strayed far from the trodden path with ‘Southern Hostility’. It’s more like they’ve turned around, walked back to a place they were a little while ago and started treading that path again in hope of finding new things, just like they did when they released ‘Red. White. Green’. They’re another jewel in modern metal and should not be cast aside because of their image or their previous publicity acts.
Like I did 5 years ago, give them a go. You won’t regret it.
Southern Hostility Track list:
1) Southern Hostility
2) King of Diamonds
3) All Pride No Pain
4) From Darkness
5) The Champ is Coming
7) Reinventing Hatred
8) Never Alone
9) The Anthem of the Doomed
10) Soul Searcher