Upon a Burning Body – Fury Review

I need to move on. My relationship with Upon a Burning Body is a tumultuous one, as every one of the past four releases has been met with praise of “that album that’s the closest to The World is Ours” only for the next to take up the mantle. While the quartet’s sound leans closer to metalcore or groove metal these days, as opposed to the cutthroat deathcore of their humble origins, every release has fallen under its shadow. The World is Ours truly was a best-of-all-worlds situation, balancing deathcore’s adrenaline-pumping vitriol with shredding technicality and a kickass Texan attitude. However, Fury is pretty great.

Upon a Burning Body is a quartet from San Antonio, Texas, vocalist Danny Leal and guitarist Ruben Alvarez the only original members remaining. Beginning with 2019’s Southern Hostility, the act started to get away from the bitter taste of the ironically titled The World is My Enemy Now, focusing on cranking out fun headbanging tunes—no more, no less. Fury continues this trend for a more groove-inflected, crunchier, and overall more memorable listen than its predecessor. While, yes, Fury is still firmly sapping the last dregs from the mine of -core, you’d be hard-pressed to find an album as fun.

Groovy to the bone, Fury offers curb-stomping tunes, as one of my students said, to “fight God” to. Each member brings the heat, allowing Upon a Burning Body to lay a thick foundation of ass-kicking grooves, shredding solos, and punishing breakdowns used in just the right amounts—and often with enough pinch harmonics or bluesy flourishes to keep things interesting. Tracks like “A New Responsibility,” “Meltdown,” and “Clarity” are immediate highlights, infectiously brutal with viciously delivered one-liners and the grooviest riffs I’ve heard in a hot minute. The latter in particular, as well as closer “Humbling My Skin” are the only that slow things down, reveling in deathcore decadence and hell-scraping gutturals, but their sparsity adds greater heft. Effectively gritty clean vocals appear in tracks like “Kill the Ego” and “Thunderheart,” while southern fried flare elevates tracks like “Shapeshifter” and “Who Am I.” More streamlined than previous efforts with a terrific mix and production to boot, Fury feels like Upon a Burning Body finally hitting its stride, a sweet spot that recalls Bleed from Within’s Uprising. It undoubtedly borrows from its glory days in Red. White. Green, but the sixth album’s emphasis on pulse-pounding groove a la Pantera and Lamb of God that improves upon its predecessors in every way feels as if the quartet has finally found its place.

The good news is that Fury represents the best offering of Upon a Burning Body in the last decade, but it’s an album whose consistency is often called into question. The act still features a single entirely forgettable instrumental interlude,1 “Sweet Serenity,” which does little aside from pumping the brakes after the killer “Clarity.” “Snake Eyes,” although featuring sweet grooves, sees Leal’s vocals focusing nearly entirely on the mid-range bark, which feels weak compared to opener “A New Responsibility.” “Who Am I” and “Code of Honor” constitute Fury’s weakest portion, the riffs lacking adequate fleshing or relying on too much repetition, with the latter growing especially old after too many iterations of the same off-kilter plucking. While solid tricks and riffs can be found in most tracks, there are moments that feel like hiccups in a better direction.

All that said, Fury nevertheless feels like a new chapter. While the last three outings have felt frustratingly pretentious, overly obsequious, or overshadowed by The World is Ours, Upon a Burning Body embraces the groove in a fresh and feisty foray into -core energy that showcases the best of its assets. Breakneck energy is first and foremost, and while it will do little to convince the naysayers who believe that this breed of deathcore/metalcore/groove metal/whatever is dead, it boasts more than enough memorable crunch to carry its concise thirty-two minute runtime. I feel I can finally stop comparing Upon a Burning Body to its debut, because Fury is a new beast entirely.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Seek & Strike Records
Websites: uponaburningbody.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/uponaburningbody
Releases Worldwide: May 6th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Adding to a not-so-best-of list including “A Toda Madrè ò un Desmadrè,” “El Mariachi,” and the ending portion of “Scarface.”
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