Upheaval
Testimony to the Atrocities

Indianapolis-based Upheaval may frequent on the hardcore/metalcore side of the fence, but their circle of friends isn’t stopping them from creating some of the most harrowing, if not predictable, death metal this side of AngelCorpse.

Indeed, Upheaval’s second platter, Testimony to the Atrocities, hails of the genre’s most illustrious outfits as inspiration. The most notable of these is, of course, AngelCorpse, but nods to Morbid Angel (circa-Altars of Madness) and Incantation (slow, tremolo-style riffs) are similarly evidenced. Tracks such as “Laments of the Fallen Angels” and “The Fallacy of One” are incendiary, bottom-ended bouts of whirlwind-like fury, belted out with the fire of youth and obscurity. Guitarists Nathan Stambro and Benjamin Parrish are a talented combo, demonstrating a sense of urgency and history in their work. It’s a feat normally not part of death metal’s mid-90s switchover.

“The Essence of Prophecy’s” slow-fast-slow format isn’t too different from Incantation’s own Onward to Golgotha or Sinister’s Diabolical Summoning. Ironically, the welcome nostalgic reference works to their disadvantage. Here, Upheaval merely manage to unearth and regurgitate previous legwork – we haven’t forgotten about these releases just yet, guys. On the other hand, “Abomination of the Desolate” (nice tip of the hat to the ‘Angel) seems to hint at possible future workings. Progression. The song’s hell-bent approach slows midway through, allowing a quieter, more reflective side of their songwriting to peer through the heaving mass of riffs, battered drums and scorched religious text. It’s here, too, that Stambro and Parrish exercise their metalcore chops. “Through the Darkest Days of Tribulation” approaches from a different as well – minor compositional variation notwithstanding, substantial infernal work mirrors the grit of early Carcass without lifting from Steer’s legendary textbook of ugly-but-beautiful songwriting.

Out of the eight songs that (dis)grace, Testimony …, “Mourning the Sickness” sounds like John McEntee warming up for Diabolical Conquest. The track quickly points out that a bunch of “cool” death metal riffs from yesteryear don’t always equal the sum of their parts. It’s disjointed, but far from on purpose, to be less than subtle. “Into the Gates of Eternal Suffering” starts and ends promisingly enough. When Upheaval create a sinister atmosphere, it’s clearly in their favor; the one-dimensional delivery of earlier tracks gives way to an expansive, inverted sound, something “Abomination” hinted at. Sadly, the midsection turns Hell’s chariot back onto well-charted runs.

To sum up, if you’ve never heard of Upheaval then maybe it’s time to stop listening to Six Feet Under (who upon every release set the genre back five or so years) and start getting into the underground, for it’s acts like Upheaval that continue to fuel the pyre. Are Upheaval the harbingers of death? Almost.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
April 11th, 2000

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