Album Review: Upon Stone – Dead Mother Moon

4/5

California’s Upon Stone are vehemently introducing the world to their take on melodic death metal with Dead Mother Moon. Formed in 2021, the quartet haven’t lagged in achieving milestones, releasing this debut full-length on the touted label Century Media Records. So, what makes their spin on a classic Gothenburg style intriguing enough to land them a record deal and extensive tours?

By the naked ear, Dead Mother Moon sounds like an album harvested from the ’90s, with its loose snare and crunching guitars. However, the members’ hardcore influences give it a modern, hybrid touch. Vocalist/bassist Xavier Wahlberg’s voice exudes this feature the most. His charged, howling style conjures both images of dark forests and sketchy streets.

The record’s opening and self-titled track wastes no time setting a dramatic mood, barreling abruptly into a fast-paced gore-grind section. A gloomy, clean guitar interlude ushers in the song’s hellacious closing, forecasting mood changes littered throughout the release. “Onyx Through the Heart” leans more into the black metal spectrum, spewing ambient tremolo riffs and hyper beats. “My Destiny: a Weapon” pounds away with a raw attack filled with down beats and palmed triplet riffs. The first three songs portray Upon Stone as a bull in a china shop; they prove to possess many powerful ideas but don’t rein them in, at least not in an effectively structured manner.

The tracks, however, do take on individual characteristics beginning with “Dusk Sang Fairest.” This banger navigates a Viking ship’s cadence, unleashing crestfallen riffs and a folky acoustic bridge. Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair then makes a rousing guest appearance on “Paradise Failed,” growling ferociously over the song’s devastating breakdown. “Nocturnalism” follows, which is a brief instrumental sporting clean guitars and synths guiding a gothic yet spacey melody.

The throwback composition closes with “The Lantern,” profoundly paying homage to At The Gates via its urgent and haunting vibe. Although Upon Stone emulates their Scandinavian influences in many ways, in the end, they’re showing potential toward honing an exclusive variance to the sub-genre. If they continue to work with producers the likes of Taylor Young (Nails), they’re bound to make an impactful mark. Witness perhaps the genesis of a hybrid beast when Dead Mother Moon releases on January 19.

Buy the album here.

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