The UK death metal group Beyond Grace are this week’s featured Meet The Band artist. Their latest album is Our Kingdom Undone. Vocalist Andy Walmsley, guitarists Tim Yearsley and Chris Morley, bassist Andrew Workman and drummer Ed Gorrod introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Beyond Grace.
Andy Walmsley: We’ve been together – both as close friends and a band – for a long time, but have always kind of felt like outsiders when it comes to the UK scene. Even so, we’ve been lucky enough to play, tour with, and learn from some of the biggest and best over the years – Hour of Penance and Blood Red Throne, Cryptopsy and Mithras, Darkane and The Monolith Deathcult, and more – and that experience has really helped us become stronger and to develop our own sound and identity, which we think people will see/hear on the new album.
Describe the songwriting process for Our Kingdom Undone.
Andy: Slow. Detailed. But also much more organic this time around. The songs (and album) we ended up with are not necessarily the ones we set out to write, but they’re the ones we needed to write, and this time we found it much easier to just follow the songs where they wanted to go, without trying to force them to conform to a particular shape or style or length.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Andy: Not so much the recording but the writing – feeling that electricity in the room, whether it was just a few of us at Tim’s bouncing around proto-ideas, or the full five of us in our practice space feeding off the collective energy, hammering the songs into shape then sharpening and polishing all the fine details. We’re all about creating, and that moment when everything finally clicks into place right before recording… you can’t fake that.
Did the pandemic affect the process?
Andy: The recording process – no. We’d pretty much finished everything long before Covid was first starting to rear its ugly head. In fact I think we’d just had it mixed and mastered right before the first inklings of “this isn’t just going to go away” started to make themselves known. But the pandemic definitely affected the release of the album, as we were originally going to go fully DIY with it… before plans changed and we ended up on Prosthetic’s radar!
How did you come to sign with Prosthetic Records?
Andy: Cards on the table, it was all thanks to our producer Charles (Elliott – singer/guitarist for Abysmal Dawn and also the mainman at Tastemaker Audio). Once he found out that we were delaying the album release (foolishly assuming the pandemic would be under control within a couple of months) he offered to send it on to Prosthetic because he knew them pretty well and thought we’d be a good fit. The fact that he thought it was good enough to stick his neck out for us like that… we can’t thank him enough, we really can’t.
How has the band’s sound evolved from your debut album?
Andy: We’ve certainly gotten heavier. I know every band says that, but it’s true. The songs on Our Kingdom Undone have more weight and presence, as well as a more fluid dynamic – we’ve developed a better grasp of when to pull back, to slow things down, to let the music breathe, so that when it hits again it hits even harder. The songwriting is also more mature. It’s not just trying to cram a load of ideas together then trying to make them flow, it’s about focusing on a core idea/theme and letting it grow naturally.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Andy: Fear and frustration. Guilt and recrimination. A whole smorgasbord of emotions brought about by the state of the world. It’s a very “political” album, sure, but also a very personal one – whether I’m screaming my lungs out about isolationism or inequality, misinformation or religious indoctrination, it’s always my fear, my guilt, my rage and frustration, beneath it all.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Andy: Goals? First and foremost we want the album to define/redefine who we are and what we stand for. We want it to be something that will stand the test of time and that people will come to appreciate and understand more the more they listen to it. Something we can look back on and be proud of but which also serves as a foundation for the next album too.
Expectations? Hopefully it will raise our profile and put us on a few more radars. Get us interest from the right people when it comes to tours and festival slots, etc. We’re ready to take that next step, to step up, and hopefully this album will give us that push we need.
What has been your most memorable Beyond Grace live show?
Andy: Opening for Cryptopsy in London on their “None So Vile” tour was one of those shows that reminds you why you do this – not because it was one of the biggest shows we’ve played (though it definitely was) but because the crowd was so into it, even though they weren’t there for us, that they gave us so much energy to feed off and made us play ten times better.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Andy: We have a home-town show playing with Cryptic Shift and Damim coming up. Our last show before the pandemic was part of a tour with them and Hour of Penance, so when they asked if we wanted to jump on that we really couldn’t say no… it’ll be one hell of a reunion! Then we’ve got an appearance at Badgerfest in Manchester on 17 October that was originally meant to happen last year, so we’ve been looking forward to that for a while now. And then you should probably keep your eyes open for a number of dates we have planned in November with a few different (but equally great) bands.
How did you get started in music?
Andy: I blame my Dad. He raised me on tons of Rush and Yes, Queen and Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams, so it feels like music was always in my future.
Tim Yearsley: Picked up a guitar in a school music lesson as a way to not do the actual work set!
Ed Gorrod: My family are all pretty musical so I just grew up with music and instruments around all the time. Once I sat down at a drum kit for the first time, that was it.
Andrew Workman: Basically just playing bass with friends in stupid bands!
Chris Morley: I also blame my Dad. I distinctly remember the air raid siren at the start of “War Pigs” being on repeat for several of my car journeys with him as a kid. The fact it was the song that was playing when I walked into the Black Sabbath exhibit in Birmingham really made it hit home that it was my introduction to the heavier side of music.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Andy: Hardcore was one of my first loves, so even though there’s not really any of it in our music, I still see bands like Earth Crisis and Zao, V.O.D. and AFI, as big influences.
Tim: Motörhead, Pantera, Metallica.
Ed: Metallica, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Andrew: Primus and Jaco Pastorius… Death (take your pick from their bassists)… Mastodon and The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Chris: Brian May and Tony Iommi, then as I started to explore music more I remember hearing Dream Theatre and Opeth and going “I want to write riffs like THAT”. The dive into heavier and more technical stuff was inevitable after that really
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Andy: V.A.S.T. at Academy 3 in Manchester.
Tim: Motörhead. I think I’m still slightly deaf now.
Ed: Aside from local shows, my first “proper” metal gig was probably Bloodstock 2007. I was working on the bar, but being there really got me into heavy music. I bumped into Andy during Arch Enemy’s set there, and he asked me to play drums for his band a few days later, and here I am today.
Andrew: Either Pitchshifter or Amen (or possibly both together?).
Chris: Mastodon, at Rock City in Nottingham.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Andy: Lots of Fluisteraars and Lantlôs, This Gift Is A Curse, Childish Gambino… the list goes on!
Tim: Kostolom by Slaughter to Prevail, Malevolent Thoughts… by Cognitive, and the self-titled debut by Samara Joy.
Ed: Gorod – Aethra, Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still, Cannibal Corpse – Kill.
Andrew: Macro by Jinjer, Vile Luxury by Imperial Triumphant and Miss Machine by TDEP.
Chris: Soreption, because they write riffs like nobody else, Summoning The Lich, because they write catchy hooks that burn into my head, and Luna’s Call, because their latest album marries prog and metal in a way that satisfies both my musical leanings.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
You know, even though we haven’t always felt at home in the UK scene, we’ve still played with (or plan to play with) some amazing bands, so it would be cool to finish off by highlighting some of them, if that’s ok? Everyone please check out: Luna’s Call, Rannoch, Allfather, Celestial Sanctuary, Ageless Oblivion, Slugdge, Dvne, Calligram, This Is Turin, Talanas,,Man Must Die, Leeched. And then, obviously, our old (and soon to be again) tourmates Damim and Cryptic Shift.
(interview published September 4, 2021)
Watch Beyond Grace – “Hive Mind” Video