Released: August 28, 2020
- Chris Garth: guitars, effects, synths, piano, percussion, saw
- James Bridges: bass, synths, effects
- Dale Forster: drums and percussion
- 1. Power of Three
- 2. Arc
- 3. Eternals
- 4. A Bundle of Limbs
- 5. Miar
- 6. A Conversation About Fire
- 7. Cold Harbour
Upcdownc is a U.K. band who has existed for close to 20 years, which gives them a rather impressive history and a lot of experience. Kudos, frankly, to any band who has slogged it out for nearly two decades in an increasingly unforgiving industry. They currently slot into the sludge/doom metal genre, with lots of post-metal crossover (especially in earlier days). Their latest album, Score, distills a lot of that sound and experience into a solidly atmospheric package.
Score is an album of mood pieces and often intense riffage, and unlike the last offering (I, Awake from 2017), it is entirely instrumental — or at least as close to it as makes no difference. The tracks are based on repeated themes that build slowly, dark and unsettling, charge ahead, and then drop back into slow contemplation. There are separate songs, but the album should be taken as a whole — the tracks slide seamlessly one into the next, and while each piece does evoke its own mood, they work better as part of an overall experience — and that experience is one of building unease, a vague anxiety that drifts through the whole album, and is finally softened by the last track, “Cold Harbour”.
This, of course, makes it more difficult to focus on a specific “best” track, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with “Arc” — the longest piece on the album, and one that reflects the structure of the album as a whole: a slow, guitar-based build into a heavy-duty headbanging chordfest, then back to moody contemplation. The single “Miar” takes a similar trajectory.
Overall, Score is a strong offering from these guys, with lots of atmosphere, slow and heavy by turns, and nicely succinct. And the title fits: the album could easily work as the backdrop to some unsettling Netflix drama. If you like your stoner rock doom-laden, or your psych rock sludgy and intense, Score may be for you.