Regardless of how into the heaviness of metalcore or deathcore you may be, Swindon’s Ursus are about to blow your mind with their interpretation of what ‘heavy’ is.
The band has been around in various guises for a while but freely admit their first incarnation of the band was an educational experience that helped them learn how to actually be in a band and perform on stage. The recent addition of Joe Grimes on vocals, joining guitarist James Matthews, bassist Ryan Martin and drummer Aaron Black, has seen Ursus was the key turning point which, in the band’s words, saw “everything finally seem to fit together perfectly for the first time.”
Most recent single Ascension is an absolute assault on the senses. It opens with a building distant guitar and reverby noise that eventually drops down into a stabbing riff that continues through a wild opening verse of huge vocals and pounding drums that ends on a cool ‘bleugh’ vocal – which we need to come up with a word for – and a booming guitar riff. Darting guitars lead into a lively chorus led by more huge screamed vocals, then drops down into another massive verse.
An ominous, eerie sound follows the second verse then a big almost synthy sound comes in as the heavy vocals return before a big smash-up of huge metal guitars are followed by a much needed pause for breath. That’s soon smashed open by a booming guitar noise and a big scream as it descends into darkness for one last time. It’s truly terrifyingly brilliant. Check it out below:
We had a chat to get the lowdown on this exciting new band, and started with that terrifyingly heavy sound. They told us: “We would describe our sound as metalcore with a much darker edge. We’re all inspired by a lot of different genres within the band so we wanted to blend all those elements together to create a sound that sets us apart from everyone else.
“People who come to our shows and see us for a full 30 minutes will hear elements of metalcore and deathcore as well as nu-metal and even horror movie sound design on our newer songs. As for our new single, that showcases the lighter end of the band’s spectrum and is a much more emotionally driven song than we’ve done before.”
That said, new track Hallowed Shakes is far from light and melodic, opening up with a really cool darting low-tuned guitar riff with ominous high-pitched guitars in the background. The verse sees shouted vocals supported by palm-muted guitars and low bass, and leads into a cry of “Hallowed Shakes” alongside a return of the big opening riff. Another big verse of screamed vocals is followed by djenty guitar chords and dark screamed vocals then flies into a wild blitz of guitars and huge vocals.
The heaviness drops out with drawn out synth and light guitars soon joined by distant screamed vocals, then explodes back into life with an almighty blast of low-tuned guitar dominating against a backdrop of high-pitched guitars and big screamed vocals, then a really cool high-pitched guitar solo needles away to bring the track to an epic ending.
The band see this song as a rebirth of sorts and a new chapter in the Ursus story. It was mastered by Ermin Handanovic, who has worked on the last two Periphery albums, to further add to the superb new Ursus sound. They told us: “Ermin did an amazing job with this song. He only did the master for us so we didn’t get the opportunity to learn much from him unfortunately, other than through his great professionalism, but he definitely helped shape the sound.
“Steven Jones had already done an incredible job on the mix and Ermin was able to take that and highlight everything we loved about it in the master. He has an incredible ear so he always seems to know exactly what’s needed for the song to reach its full sonic potential. We couldn’t be happier with how it sounds.”
The band describe their sound as heavy, dark and aggressive, influenced by bands like Structures and Thy Art is Murder who take something people might have heard before but put a very original twist on it to sound unique. They build on that as they explain: “We write our music about anything that we are inspired by at that particular time. Hallowed Shakes is about someone suffering from PTSD, which is something Joe had been reading a lot about at the time we were working on the song.
“Usually the music comes first and the feeling of the song can pull your mind towards a topic or a thought that will evolve into a full set of lyrics. It’s all about giving people some sort of emotional reaction and that’s where the inspiration comes from. We also write with our live show in mind so that at the end of the day we can give the best performance of the songs possible.”
We’re very excited about what’s coming from Ursus, who are currently working on their new EP, on which they tell us: “It’s shaping up to be a very dark EP with a lot of elements of horror movies blended in to much heavier music than we have released before.” They’ll also be out on tour doing gigs in more places, which they see as vital to showing people their new music, so keep an eye out for them in a town near you early in 2018.