Ah, melodic death metal. From Gothenburg, Sweden and Finland did the beautiful yet razored strains of our beloved metal flow. While I’ll admit to being a lifer of the Stockholm sound, the rusted yet tearing teeth of the Swedish Chainsaw (HM-2) cranked to oblivion, the sometimes- bludgeoning doom-influenced moments, there’s something special about the more precise attack of the G-burg bands, and the inherent melody they brought to the table.

And thus, from the cold, jagged cliffs, the snow-encased lands of the San Fernando Valley, California comes UPON STONE. Say what you will, but I’d imagine growing up as a metalhead in the land of theme parks, ever-present film crews and tourists might give one an icy disposition, and when opener ‘Dead Mother Moon’ savages ‘n’ ravages its way into your earholes, we’re not even two minutes in, and I’m feeling a bit frostbitten myself. Crystalline leads slice like sheets of blizzard, shrieking atop a rugged rhythm foundation, and vocalist/bassist Xavier has the snarl that’s been missing from IN FLAMES’ Anders Fridén since Clayman.

A punchy ‘Onyx Through The Heart’ follows, and, while not as immediate as the title track, still leaves one looking forward to what’s to come. With good reason, as ‘My Destiny; A Weapon’ powers forward with a speed and intensity that positively bleeds pedigree, or at least an impressive collection of music that the foursome has taken as inspiration. Dual leads are the hallmark of this album, yet often the axe-wielders take divergent paths, injecting a bit of the chaos that made those early melodic death albums sound so passionate and so of the moment.

After a blustering ‘Paradise Failed’, a somber interlude in the form of ‘Nocturnalism’ leads us ‘To Seek And Follow The Call Of Lions’. There’s a bit of NWOAHM to be found here and there upon Dead Mother Moon, and this is one of those bits, unsurprising considering the sibling nature shared by that scene and early Gothenburg. In this case, not a bad thing at all, despite how polluted both have become now.

Thankfully, with songs like the penultimate ‘The Lantern’, and albums such as Dead Mother Moon, bands like UPON STONE and fellow countrymen MAJESTIES might be just the ones to revive the magick yet make their own mark in the process.
Review By: Lord Randall

Dead Mother Moon
Century Media