Upon Stone // Dead Mother Moon // Album Review


San Fernando Valley, CA quartet Upon Stone are bringing the rebirth of melodic death metal.

Formed in 2021 Upon Stone was started by vocalist & bassist Xavier Wahlberg with the addition of drummer Wyatt Bentley and guitarist Ronny Marks.

Coming together to craft elements from the 90s / early 00s of the first few waves of melodic death metal the likes of Children of Bodom, In Flames and Dissection.

Harnessing this sound underneath is a group rooted in the hardcore scene & with the addition of guitarist Gage Goss, the group curated a new & refreshing take on the said melodeath sound. While also beautifully sprinkling some surprising elements throughout their sound.

With the release of the debut E.P. In “Where Wild Sorrows Grow” the band deservedly caught the attention of Century Media. The E.P. showed the world what perfectly crafted & brutal tracks the band could create.

Now a fresh signing to Century Media sees the release of the group’s debut album, “Dead Mother Moon”. Nine tracks of unbridled fury, haunting melodies & some of the best tremolo riffing you’ve ever heard.

Opening the album, the self-titled track “Dead Mother Moon” goes right for the throat. No fancy intro here, no wasting time. This track knows what it wants & it’s to punish you. Now with that being said Upon Stone in conjugation with legendary producer Taylor Young (The Pit) have thankfully built a heavy & rich tone on the album. But on the flipside the band have been able to ride the line of brutal & beautiful. Allowing the guitar riffs to be angelic in fashion & really pull you in from its opening moments.

Soaring guitar leads from Ronny Marks really elevate the already mighty track. Mark’s lead solo work on the whole record is pretty much perfection. Even with repeated listens his sections are still mind-blowing each time they slowly soothe my ear canals.

“Dead Mother Moon” is the perfect track to open the album with, Dipping its toes into every sound the album has to offer with a nice little tease & a mega first impression.

Turning up the brutality in “My Destiny; A Weapon” really packs a fucking punch. The guitar tone perfectly morphs into a cruncher & more punishing sound. Now when it comes to Xavier Wahlberg’s vocals it’s so refreshing to hear the style he has chosen for the group. His raspy high vocal tone spreads a lovely but anguishing sound over the harsh & soulful songs the band have recorded to create this gut-wrenching but one of the freshest & most diverse deliveries on a death metal album in some time.

Bringing back the 00’s early true metalcore-influenced melodeath with “Paradise Failed” which perfectly features Shadows Fall vocalist Brain Fair. This track is a true perfect merge of spink kick riffs & headbang moments. Filled with twinges of The Black Dahlia Murder too this track still has more impressive lead work & complex riffing but it’s a great more stripped back track. One that grabs you quickly & won’t let go until its closing moments.

Now some middle album interludes can feel like filler but “Nocturnalism” feels perfectly at home with the style the album is trying to create. From the first to last seconds on this album it feels like the band are here to create something very organic, pure & full of true passion. Melding with the album’s lyrics, this instrumental track doesn’t need words to purvey the emotional resonance it is trying to convey which is truly epic. Also for all my Skyrim soundtrack lovers this would fit perfectly within any of the great musical moments the game has!

Nearing the end of the album “The Lantern” feels like the monolithic conclusion for the album. Opening with a blast before softly seducing the listener with its beautiful haunting clean guitar section and then snatching you back up, this track feels like the perfect combination & final showcase of the band’s malicious but meticulous sound. In its final moments Upon Stone has been able to bring the rebirth of melodeath. Not only is it an album that has something for everyone.

Flawlessly matching the Gothenburg death metal sound, chaotic cold of black metal & the raw, no-nonsense of modern hardcore. Bringing all these elements together has allowed the group to not only create one of the most impressive debut albums in some time but also beautifully spawned the best melodeath album of the fucking decade…

Dead Mother Moon Tracklist:

   Dead Mother Moon 3:59
   Onyx Through the Heart 3:36
   My Destiny; A Weapon 3:45
   Dusk Sang Fairest 3:11
   Paradise Failed 3:41
   Nocturnalism 1:17
   To Seek and Follow the Call of Lions 4:06
   The Lantern 5:17
   Dig Up Her Bones 3:02

Joseph Mitchell

Dead Mother Moon is out via Century Media on 19th January 2024

PREORDER: Dead Mother Moon