This five-piece band from Nottingham, UK describe themselves as “architects of omni-dimensional death metal devastation.” That seems apt. Beyond Grace play technical death metal with, at times, the ever-so-slightest hint of deathcore. Seekers (released July 7, 2017) is their first full-length album, and it displays an impressive combination of instrumental skill and artistic brilliance.
Beyond Grace seem to have named Seekers after what they thought was its strongest track. It took a lot of confidence to lead off the album with it. After the de rigueur sinister melodic intro, they launch into full-throttle techdeath anger. This song has it all: slowly swept arpeggios used as a hook rather than as decoration; chugging groove-punches; screams that run the gamut from low to high; and even a bass solo, and a bloody excellent bass solo at that. Beyond Grace accomplish more in “Seekers” than many bands manage to on an entire album.
That, dear readers, would be the power of good writing.
“Oracle” follows up on this brilliance with more brilliance. Beyond Grace add time-changes, start-stop pacing, and Immolation-esque doom motifs to their bag of tricks. At roughly the 3-minute mark, there is a rest, barely a measure long, that braces the listeners for a devastating followup. And yes, another bass solo.
Elsewhere on Seekers, “Black Math Ritual” has a somewhat black metal feel in its chording. The song also shows Beyond Grace’s drummer Ed Gorrod carefully regulating the song’s felt tempo with the snare drum. At around the 4 minute mark, the song makes a turn for the bizarre and jazzy with a quiet passage that recalls some moments on Atheist’s 1991 magnum opus Unquestionable Presence (minus the slap-and-pop bass playing — Andrew Workman plays it straight). They have another bass solo and the guitar work in this part shows a subtlety not yet heard on Seekers. But the drumming sets “Black Math Ritual” apart with its deliberate use of difficult techniques to build tension. And in this we see yet another strength of Beyond Grace: the lack of reliance on any single musician at all times; and the ability to give everyone in the band a moment to shine without resorting to tokenism or other cheap gestures.
The production on Seekers is pretty standard fare in terms of tone. While nothing bad, it will not turn many heads either. That having been said, listens of Seekers on a high quality sound system and again on cheap computer speakers reveal a very balanced mix, so the production is hardly much to complain about on this album at all.
Beyond Grace have created in Seekers one of 2017’s best albums so far. The band combined technical skill, cerebral intimacy, melody, and sheer brutality in a near perfect cadence of power. Watch this band.
Notable Tracks: “Seekers”; “Oracle”; “Black Math Ritual”; “Demiurge”; “Apoptosis”
FFO: Becoming The Archetype, The Monolith Deathcult, Atheist