Upon A Burning Body have never done as they are told. Maybe it’s the band’s Texas heritage, something they always seem ready to bring up if given the chance. But as their late-2000s/early-2010s deathcore contemporaries move off in different directions, UABB is staying the course. They’ve progressed, but only in a way that refines what was already there. They don’t need electronics or dismally grim themes. Let’s crank up the amps and party.
Are Upon a Burning Body treading water? Some would say yes. But if the water you are treading in contains juicy riffs, breakdowns, and enough crowd-pleasers to start a moshpit factory, why stop? Upon A Burning Body have hit their stride, somewhere between the heaviness of Whitechapel and the fuck-you attitude of Emmure. Built From War is no different. It’s everything we should have expected.
Actually, that’s not true. Upon A Burning Body have never been opposed to courting the mainstream (check out their cover of “Turn Down for What” featuring Ice-T for proof) but on “Chains of Agony”, they break out into a full cleanly sung chorus. It’s a surprise from the No-Clean-Vocals crew, but it’s certainly effective. Fans of Killswitch Engage and newer Beartooth will fall right in line. Reuban Alvarez, who seems to have played every instrument in the band at some point by now, is flexing his playing chops throughout the EP, pulling off some Dimebag sounding licks in every solo. Nice.
Elsewhere, things are more predictable. “5×3” is all chugs and bouncy riffs. The title track is a straight-up beatdown, one that will send any metal party through the roof with its endless energy and tectonic final thirty seconds, shouted to the tune of “strength is the only way out!”
2016’s Straight From The Barrio saw Upon A Burning Body lean into their subgenre’s douchier fake-macho side (think Chris Fronzak’s Attila) with songs like “B.M.F.” and “You Don’t Own Me”. Last year’s Southern Hostility was a welcome return to form, reminding us all why we liked these wild partiers from Texas in the first place. Built From War is more of that, more Lamb of God/Pantera worship that can bring metalheads and non-metalheads together without sacrificing any of the intensity that makes this music great. If they move farther with the clean vocal direction, we could be looking towards their best days yet.
Or they could go back to nu metalcore. Please don’t do that, guys. We know the allure of the mainstream is strong, but it’s almost always fleeting. The underground circuit that birthed and bred you still there. EPs like this are what keeps them going. Don’t leave.