One of grindcore's more diverse offerings
Blue Mountains (New South Wales, Australia) based grindcore/death metal outfit Beyond Terror Beyond Grace have been around for some years now, and while they’re still considered a relatively underground act within the scene, the list of acts the band has shared the stage with over the years both locally and internationally says quite a bit about the band’s achievements (including Carcass, Behemoth, Pig Destroyer, Cephalic Carnage, Brutal Truth, Psycroptic, The Amenta, Grave, Skinless and The Berzerker).
In as little as six months after the release of Sick Chainsaws Productions’ split Breeding The Sick Species album (which also featured the likes of Negation, Cardiac Necropsy, Extreme Decay and Masochist), Beyond Terror Beyond Grace are back with their second full-length effort Our Ashes Built Mountains, which is the follow-up to 2007’s Extinction|Salvation.
Although Beyond Terror Beyond Grace’s sound is still well within the grindcore/death metal mould, Our Ashes Built Mountains is not your typical grindcore album, with the four piece act (who at the time comprised of vocalist/lyricist Barton ‘B.’ Ware (who is now sings for Dining in Tuscany), bassist Alex, guitarist Ben Terror (who has since left the group) and drummer Steve Smith) breaking up the their familiar all out assaults with plenty of sampled/soundscape interludes placed between the tracks (provided by The Amenta’s Tim Pope), giving the songs the opportunity to stand out from each other, and allow the listener a bit of breathing space before being pummelled once again.
Sound and direction wise, Our Ashes Built Mountains is quite a progression from the band’s previous releases, with the brutality stepped up a notch. Tracks such as the opener Mannequins, Amnesia, the groovier Information Scars, the intense Shadowhalo, the infectious riffing catchiness of both Flightless and Coil, the punkish blast of Hang Them By Their Crowns, Control and Bias are the picks of the album in terms of the heavier side of things, while the progressively inclined Ashes and the lengthy instrumental Murakami (which certainly brings to mind New Zealand act Jacob) show the band’s broadening musical horizon outside their familiar fast paced grindcore past existence.
Musically, there’s little to find at fault with throughout Our Ashes Built Mountains. There’s plenty of variation (something that makes grindcore just that little more interesting for me over the course of a whole album’s worth of straight out aggression), and the songs themselves are well written.
But as good as the album is there are a couple of negatives worth pointing out. Not all the samples work on the album, with some sounding placed onto the album merely to take up space. The only other blight against the album is its dense production sound. Although not awful, the album does sound a little muddied in places, which at times tends to dull the impact the band are clearly attempting through Our Ashes Built Mountains.
In the end, Our Ashes Built Mountains is one of the more interesting grindcore albums doing the rounds this year, and should definitely find favour with those who prefer to be bludgeoned in intelligent bursts rather than being smacked over the head continuously without any premeditation.