Tech Death Thursday: Beyond Grace
Tech Death Thursday has long been beyond help, and now we’re going Beyond Grace. Are we beyond hope now, too? I don’t know, but this intro is beyond terrible. Fuck it, have some music.
A Stirring in the News:
- Transcend the Realm have an album coming next week, and you can check out the first single right here. Check out that unsettling cover art while you’re at it.
- HOLY SHIT NEW GIGAN
- Everyone’s favorite (ex-) drunk detective had some kind words for the latest Hideous Divinity, who now have a bass play-through up for “When Flesh Unfolds.” Playing fingerstyle at that kind of speed is no mean feat, and he does it with flair.
Beyond Grace are pretty different from the type of band I normally talk about here. Their compositions are generally pretty easy to follow, and they’re not “progressive” in the typical use of the word, inasmuch as they’re not changing time signatures every other measure or hitting you over the head with as many esoteric chords as they can find. That’s not to say they don’t have technical aptitude, however, and there’s more than one way to be progressive musicians. It’s just that in this case, these things are a side-effect of the songwriting rather than its focus. I believe that Seekers is best described simply as “smart.” There’s a very measured feel to it; it’s plenty aggressive (being death metal and all), but the band isn’t on a berserker rampage either. It’s reserved, calculated, like they’re considering the best place to hit you to leave the most damage.
The album opens with the eponymous “Seekers,” kicking things off with the most traditionally tech death riff on the album and some tasteful sweep picking. It cuts to half time in its next riff, changing to a triplet feel with a callback to a motif established in the opening riff, tying into a stompy syncopated followup. “Oracle” is next, oddly lilting in spite of its overall heaviness and plethora of blastbeats. This one really showcases the drummer’s knack for feel; he’s able to move easily between half time and double time without it ever feeling jarring, and the beats themselves are interesting too. He does a lot of cool stuff in the pocket (here and throughout the rest of the album), lots of small touches that add so much flavor to the song.
Moreover, this song serves as a pretty good example of what the band’s all about. That opening riff is big and chunky, but the majority of the tune has a more somber vibe to it. It’s not the melodramatic wailing of DSBM or the moping of funeral doom; it’s pensive in its melancholy, making it much easier to take seriously. Like the drums, the guitars have a lot of little details that have a surprising amount of impact, such as the arpeggiated second riff in the verse. It could have just as easily skipped the middle note in that sequence for simplicity’s sake, but its incorporation makes that particular progression much more interesting. About three minutes in and you’re hit with a monster prog jam, attacking with weird intervals and meaty gallops.
While “Oracle” encapsulates the overall mood of the album, Beyond Grace is far from being a one-trick pony. Quite the opposite, in fact; each of its nine songs feels unique with no time wasted on filler or throwaway material. “Demiurge” is a mid-tempo headbanger that largely plays to the extreme low range, whereas “The Etherealist” is speedy and chaotic. “Black Math Ritual” strays a bit into black metal territory (surprise) with its chord work, and “Acolytes” features some punchy start-stop riffing. The song I’m most excited to share with you, which unfortunately isn’t up publicly yet, is “Apoptosis.” Its opening is pure thrashy bliss, its chorus digs its way into your brain and doesn’t let go, and the riffs between them have some of the coolest guitar work on the album. The last third is what seals the deal for me, though; it goes into a gorgeous clean section, slowly building up before the distortion kicks back in and hits you with a waterfall of emotion and closing out on one of the best guitar solos in recent memory. In short, it’s glorious, and I can’t wait for you to hear it.
I would be remiss not to mention the vocal and bass performances. Both of them are pleasantly dynamic; the bassist definitely adheres to the “tone is in the fingers” philosophy and changes his attack as the song demands. He easily keeps pace with the guitars and has some standout moments with tapping flourishes and sweet leads. The vocals are similar in both timbre and power to James Dorton, rarely sticking to one register and keeping the flow intact with their cadence. Overall, this is a band that really feels complete in both writing and performance.
Hopefully you liked what you heard today; if you did, send some Toilet love Beyond Grace’s way on Facebook, and consider picking up a copy of Seekers from their Bandcamp, out July 7th. That’s all for this week, and until next time,
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