Artist: Upon His Flesh
Album: The Disconnect
Watching iconic moments in history as they’re portrayed in a television show or film can be slanted in more than one way. There’s the opportunity for the director, actor or author to put his or her own version of history into it, and sure, there’s the chance that it takes certain stylistic liberties to mesh with today’s audience. However, we all know about those–I’m fairly certain no one went into 300 thinking it was going to adhere to documentary-level styles of accuracy. However, where the more subtle slants to grandiose moments in our past take place aren’t in what you see, but what you hear–I’m referring to the soundtrack. If storming the beaches at Normandy or the toppling of Napoleon’s great army could have a soundtrack, what would you pick? What band would you honor with the glory of timeless association with a timeless moment in the history of Earth? Surley, the debut album The Disconnect by Twin Cities’ latest crushing deathcore act Upon His Flesh would be a contender. The Disconnect is packed with razor-sharp riffs, haunting symphonic aspects and dynamic, beautifully-structured songwriting which makes it a cacophony of intense and brilliantly detailed aggression fitting for even the most depraved moments of our past.
Upon His Flesh, begin with an explosion as loud as the shot heard around the world. “The Wretched King” wastes no time in attacking the listener with a vicious onslaught of furiously fretted riffs and blasting, incessant percussion. It’s this side of The Disconnect which reigns supreme throughout the first half of the release. The listener finds themselves almost constantly besieged by dense, gut-punching drumming which rarely—if ever—stops to give the listener any form of rest. Meanwhile, while the pulsing, perfunctory drumming has the listener clenching their stomach, the guitars are preparing their whetstones and sharpening their blades, getting ready to slice the listener from ear to ear. “The Controller” features riffs so vivid and crystalline that they seem as if they could cut the listener without even touching them. Meanwhile, the guitars make perfectly sparse use of this same shreddy, clear-as-glass tone in later tracks “The Family Name” and “Abandonment” to provide a subtle sense of continuity and closure, connecting the end of the album to the beginning. The percussion and guitars work side by side—especially in the opening tracks of the bludgeoning experience that is The Disconnect—to create a one-two punch which doubles the listener over before decapitating them.
When Upon His Flesh aren’t creating technically impervious, riff-driven dynamics, they’re using trudging, hard-hitting “-core” aspects to synthesize and symphonic and suffocating sound. Like a torpedo breaching the wall of a submarine, it only takes two or three full tracks before the pressure builds and ruptures the walls of The Disconnect’s technical juggernaut, drowning the occupants with dense, bitter heaviness. “Colossus” does this particularly well, contrasting strife and anger with masterful musicianship and dynamic riff-writing. All the while, as the album continues, the drums seem to take on even more beef, and weigh down heavier upon the listener, not just doubling them over, but kicking them while they’re down. “The Paragon of Deceit” is another example of this, beginning quickly enough with a series of stunning, machine-gun blast beats, only to slowly dissolve into a thick, sludgy and atmospheric smog which invades the listeners lungs only shortly before taking over their head and getting stuck there for days. This sinfully heavy element to Upon His Flesh’s dynamic adds something fresh and new to their sound, deepening the impact the band has on the listener and creating a truly comprehensive listening experience.
It isn’t just that Upon His Flesh are technical, nor is it that they are capable of getting unfathomably heavy—rather, it’s that they choose to, and indeed can do both. Often times, peers of Upon His Flesh opt for one over the other, sacrificing technicality and songwriting for sheer brutality and slamming heaviness. Other time, the other extreme is approached, where the music is so mind-bogglingly technical that it grows impossible to follow. The Disconnect dodges both of these bullets, creating an atmosphere which perfectly blends stunning technicality, soothing harmony, subtle symphony and spine-shredding breakdowns. “The Paragon of Deceit” is once more a beautiful example, including some of the band’s most technical and diverse riffs, alongside some of their heaviest and most intense moments. The track which follows, “The Age of Apathy,” does this too—beginning with a straightforward and slimy groove which, eventually, winds its way into the band’s sole use of clean vocals. All the while, the listener isn’t lost, confused or bored—rather, they are trapped in a state of endless awe, bewildered at the grace and glory with which Upon His Flesh are able to blend various influences and styles to create a completely immersive experience.
It isn’t very often an album could live up to both the creation of The Mona Lisa and the bombing of Hiroshima, but, The Disconnect can. Including elements of subtle and serene atmosphere alongside some of the heaviest and most brutalizing deathcore the listener will ever hear, Upon His Flesh are experts not only in their field, but in the fields from which they draw their influences–for which there are many.
For Fans Of: Bermuda, The Black Dahlia Murder, I Killed Everyone, Wretched, Make Them Suffer
By: Connor Welsh