Saving Grace – “The Urgency”


 The Urgency (2013)Metal and hardcore, two of my favorite things.  Metal, hardcore, and straightedge would be three of my favorite things and Saving Grace has combined all three first heard by me on their second album Unbreakable on Strike First Records (Facedown Records imprint).  Over the course of their now four  albums , things have subtly shifted soundwise away from the old-school hardcore sound which was the base in Unbreakable, to the more metal sound of The King is Coming to a more, almost metalcore sound which is the base for their latest album, The Urgency.

Saving Grace certainly have come a long ways from their humble beginnings in 2005 and playing in garages for friends in their home country of New Zealand.  Since those days, Saving Grace has toured globally with the likes of August Burns Red, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying, Darkest Hour, and For Today while even gaining a slot in the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival where they were on the same bill as bands like Hatebreed, Anthrax, and Suicidal Tendencies.  Given all those bands, one can draw certain conclusions about their sound and for the most part, if you include heavy, aggressive metallic sounds to describe their music, you’d be correct.  Saving Grace is known for metallic riffs, breakdowns, and faster sections that inspire so much chaos in the pits.  Lyrically, they address the social and political topics common to the genre but from a hardcore and Christian perspective as exemplified in the song “Unbreakable” that features gang vocals proclaiming “Forever true…Faith, family, friendship…Forever, Forever true”.

Right from the beginning, I could sense The Urgency was going to be a progression in sound for Saving Grace. “+0” opens up the album with a roar and thunderous, rumbling double bass and general chaos before settling into a song that alternates between old school chugging hardcore with barking vocals and metalcore that relies heavily on the double bass drum work to set the tone.  Unfortunately, for me, the double bass drum work, while impressive, has become a main feature of the songs on The Urgency.  On past albums, it was there but more sparingly employed.  The result is that The Urgency is certainly heavy and rumbling in its approach, while previous albums featured drumming that hit you more like repeated shotgun blasts.  The double bass fills many of the brief quiet moments between drum hits that set up a nice silence/explosion contrast that made the previous albums so hard hitting in contrast to The Urgency, which is just plain heavy.  Gone is some of the obvious uniqueness in their sound which previously relied more on old-school hardcore reminiscent somewhat of late 80’s bands like Earth Crisis, replaced in this case by the heavy rumbling metalcore sound that is fairly prevalent today.

For much of the album, I found myself thinking that I’ve heard this before, but toward the end of the album are my two favorite tracks.  “The Anthem of the Underground” features some jackhammer riffing and vocals screamed over the top with a spoken interlude and lots of gang vocals where one can imagine epic pile-ons.  “Temple of the Snake” starts outs sounding very much like metalcore but erupts into true jackhammer guitar and vocals for the verses, with vocals being barked out like commands over top of the guitars making for a very different sound compared to other songs on the album.  This song also features a good guitar solo before settling into a breakdown section  that ends the song.

Overall, if you like Saving Grace, you will probably like this album.  Production is top notch, mixing is good, and performances are excellent. This is arguably their heaviest album yet and all the metallic guitar riffs and almost death metal vocals found in previous Saving Grace albums are here, but missing is some of the uniqueness of the hardcore influence that characterized their earlier releases.  Those elements are still present in small bits and pieces in almost every song, but are overwhelmed by the metalcore sound that so many bands today use and unfortunately, that makes things less interesting.

Rating: 6.5/10

2.Like a Trainwreck
5.Horse Apples
6.The Banks of the Otara
7.Was: Is
9.The Anthem of the Underground
10.Temple of the Snake
11.The Man Who Painted the Pavement
13.The Urgency

Band members:
Nicholas Tautuhi – Vocals
Vasely Sapunov – Guitars
Ross McDougall – Guitars
George White – Bass
Shaun Anderson – Drums

“Upheld” / “Saving Grace” (Split) 2006
“Behind Enemy Lines” (Full-length) 2008
“Unbreakable” (Full-length) 2010
“Now This War Has Two Sides” (Split) 2011
“The King Is Coming” (Full-length) 2011
“The Urgency” (Full-length) 2014

Record Label: Facedown Records, Jan. 2014

Weblinks: Website /  Facebook / Twitter / Myspace

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

Lyric video for ‘Ablaze’

Video below ‘1994’


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