At this moment in time, there may be some of you reading this that might only know a few things about San Antonians Upon A Burning Body.
Firstly, their unfathomably OTT, highly divisive, yet ultimately genius cover of DJ Snake and Lil’ Jon’s dumbo party anthem Turn Down For What featuring Ice-T, a song that scored some heady mainstream attention for a band so relatively brutal. Secondly, their ill-advised stunt to promote last year’s superb album The World Is My Enemy Now, where frontman Danny Leal was declared missing by the band, only to pop up 24 hours later with those involved awkwardly claiming it was all a hoax, much to the chagrin of everyone from fans to record company bosses.
Thirdly, the fact that UABB are some sharp-dressed dudes. And fourthly, of course, that they are capable of putting out some of the most badass, death and groove-infused metal doing the rounds. And, if they have their way, 2015 is going to be the year that you, and anyone who doubts their pedigree as a band, sits up and takes notice of Upon A Burning Body for what they are: a great heavy metal band./o:p
“It’s important to us to build properly, the old-school way,” says Danny. “A lot of the bands we listen to and look up to had to work for years, work their asses off. If people think that we’ve just been handed shit on a plate, well, good for them. But we know the truth of this band. We’ve grown slowly and gradually, and yeah, there might have been a misstep along the way, but that’s OK. We’re still growing. We never asked for any handouts.”/o:p
When asked if the negative response to the backfiring stunt has affected the band or made them more determined to succeed the right way, Danny offers the shrug of someone who has been through a lot more than a few tutting trolls and wagging fingers. “It didn’t make us any more determined to succeed, no,” he snorts. “It’s always been that way with this band. From the first day we wanted to do everything we could, be the best band we could be. It didn’t change us or make us re-evaluate anything.”
So what did they ultimately learn from that experience?
“Well,” Danny sighs. “We learnt that a lot of people don’t have the same sense of humour as us. It was kind of sad to see people getting so butthurt about it, we just wanted to do something really over the top. Maybe they didn’t get the vibe. It’s fine.”
It’s frustrating to hear people write off Upon A Burning Body in those terms when the reality is that their gradual and organic incline on these shores, from opening act with Trivium to main support for Five Finger Death Punch to their first UK headline run, saw them end last year causing pure bedlam in a series of memorable shows.
“Man, that run was great,” says Danny as he recalls the carnage of his band destroying some of the UK’s most beloved toilet venues – venues they’ve easily outgrown back home. “It was just incredible. A really successful first tour. UK audiences are great, we couldn’t have asked for any more.”
This is a band that are humble, grateful and with their feet firmly on the ground, ready to put in the hard work. When Danny is asked about his main influences growing up, he unsurprisingly reels off the a list of metal’s greatest names (“Maiden, Pantera, Slipknot”) but is a bit more reserved when asked about whether or not his band, or any band from this generation for that matter, could hit the same heights as their biggest inspirations.
“I think it’s harder now,” he begins. “To even consider getting to that place, to become a band of that stature, would be a lot of pressure. We’d love it, of course, but we aren’t holding our breath. We’re a heavy, heavy band, and it’s a lot to ask…”
But Slipknot probably said that about, say, Pantera or Metallica when they first started, right? “That’s true,” Danny admits. “I guess if you asked any of those huge, legendary bands if they ever considered the fact that they would be as big as they are early in their career, they’d have said, ‘No way!’ So who knows?”
One thing UABB have on their side that is similar to those bands mentioned is that they have quickly outgrown the scene that spawned them. The deathcore movement of the mid-00s that boomed and then burst so quickly is showing some serious signs of getting its shit back together, but Danny is careful not to stick a label on his band
“We don’t feel part of a scene,” he shrugs. “Maybe some of those bands got written off too quickly, but metal is always changing. You have to change with it, and I think we have. We’re not a typical metal band or deathcore band or whatever. We’re singleminded in our path and we’ll be here for a while, carrying on that path, hoping for the best.”
No tricks, no front, no bullshit, no gimmicks, UABB are the real deal. Think otherwise? Be prepared to be proven wrong./o:p
UABB may insist they’ve outgrown it, but deathcore is still producing quality noise…
THE LAST TEN SECONDS OF LIFE
One of the newest faces on the scene look set to be one of the biggest, with a US tour supporting UABB pretty much rubber-stamping their arrival in style and a kickass album, this year’s blistering Soulless Hymns, announcing them as ones to keep your eyes on.
One of the most promising names in the UK deathcore scene right now, Martyr Defiled’s skill at smashing out shout-along hooks and punishing beatdowns make them a surefire winner. Expect them to land some big-ass support slots soon.
The Chicago natives continue to pulverise all in their way into a bloody submission, and this year’s ace Ascendants adds more fuel to the fire that is propelling them into the metal spotlight.
How many bands this heavy can you name that have dented the US top 30? By a margin the biggest band in this list, Chelsea Grin’s relentless rise to power seems to show no signs of slowing down. Be afraid.
THY ART IS MURDER
The most brutal thing to come out of Australia since Crocodile Dundee’s knife, Thy Art’s tent-filling, chaotic set at last year’s Download festival was a sight to be hold and further evidence that some huge things are on their horizon./o:p