An up and coming melodic post-hardcore band, Ursa Major easily justifies the buzz around them with the release of their album Old Bones. Whilst a release which suggests there is still plenty of scope for the band to explore as they fully find a distinct voice in the genre, the album is an enterprising and aggressive encounter which leaves a strong depth of satisfaction behind.
The Shepperton quintet with their imposing blend of metal and hardcore veined by skilfully sculpted melodic fire has earned strong reputation for their debut EP and live performances alongside the likes of Brotherhood Of The Lake, Golden Tanks, Our People Vs Yours, Terakai, I’ll Stay In Memphis, and Despite My Deepest Fear as well as at festivals such as Redfest. Their sound is flush with many vigorous flavours honed into an inciting and rampaging confrontation rife with compelling and incendiary rewards. Old Bones is the likely trigger to a wider awareness for the band and one suspects the first prominent step in their emergences as a force within the UK scene.
Out of the decent enough brief instrumental introduction Birth, a track which leads with craft and appetite into what is to follow, Black Lights instantly grabs potent attention and intrigue with crisp sinewy rhythms, a tight provocative groove, and the brawling coarse scowls of Elliott Fletcher. It is an impressive start with the rhythms of drummer Dan Mundy rigidly gripping the ear so the guitars of Richard Woods and Grant Marsh can unleash their sonic flames and ravenous riffs. It is the clean vocals of Fletcher though which elevate song and release in to something a little special from the rest of the similarly fuelled bands around, and alongside an open imagination and invention to the sound and songwriting, it makes for an impressive and thrilling introduction to the band.
The following ravage of passion The Two Hundred, is a captivation of melodic fire and carnal riffs. The bass of Phil Nicholls offers a resonance which prowls the senses within the again caustic embrace of the track and ill-tempered vocals. As the first song the clean vocals shine and the equal sharing of vocal extremes is certainly a highlight of song and album, their potency as vibrant as the earnest and intelligently crafted sounds. Lyrically songs are dark and demanding, intrusive companions to bring an intense union to the exhausting element of their sound and none more so than the excellent Dead Eyes. The track gnaws at the senses with grinding riffs and exhausting rhythms creating an instant submission before its power whilst rewarding endurance with rewards of again an exceptional mix of vocals and emotive heat. Primarily a metalcore gaited slice of sonic blistering, the song alone sets the band up as ones to watch very closely and within the release is the biggest highlight of many.
Through current single Fist Of The Fleet, Ursa Major scrape and burn the already in place wounds but then soothes them with immense vocal harmonies and elegant melodies. As evocative as it is harassingly brazen, the track is another powerful and thrilling bruise upon the passions to strengthen the already brewed respect and eagerness towards the band.
Though the album slips below its high standards with the arguably formula Anchored and Clipped Wings, two accomplished and pleasingly inventive and smartly-shaped songs which simply fail to spark the responses of previous songs or step far enough away from efforts by other bands, Old Bones ends on a high with In Death, a final brutal self-reflection dripping emotion and creative energy.
Old Bones is a rich and contagious release where vocals and musical imagination stands out. Ursa Major is on a certain rise and as one suspects they are only scratching the surface of their invention and ideas the future is exciting for them and us.
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