Beyond Grace may be a new band in name, but not that fresh an entity to the Metal world in general. This Nottingham, UK-based unit actually came into existence back in 2005 as Threnody, a Death/Thrash Metal group that only managed to issue a single EP, 2007's World of Glass, before going through a bit of an identity crisis. In 2011 the name was changed to Bloodguard, and then in early 2014 to the Progressive Death Metal monicker we have today that is forged of members from both of those time periods. Following the most recent name change, they issued a single titled Panopticon, and then shortly after that a three song EP titled Monstrous. But is it worth checking out, or have the years shown little in favor of this group?

For the most part, Monstrous is a slow moving beast without a lot of bite. "The Chronophage" shows some obvious Doom Metal influence, especially in the dismal introduction, but the audio quality that can best be described as blocky definitely takes away from the impact when the pace picks up. The chorus is as catchy as it is downtrodden, though the technical hooks in the main verses are fairly weak overall, even before being hindered by the somewhat distant drum kit and empty tap coming from the kicks that the bass guitar can often conceal perfectly. But if you can look past the audio flaws, you will find mildly complex passages, some Progressive elements that give a creepy tone during the solo and towards the end, as well as nice pacing still make for an enjoyable experience that may take a few spins to really get into.

The same can be said for the rest of the EP as far as the audio versus song quality goes. "Invasive Exotics" is much like "The Chronophage" as far as the Progressive Death Metal tendencies go. There is an explosive start with tight guitars and drums that sound like they would be a lot more effective overall if the output were any better, but things do begin to slow to a crawl once you hit the soothing guitar solo approaching the three minute mark, and one more sudden jolt of energy right after. Finally there's "Inhumanity", which isn't quite as diverse musically, adhering more to a traditional Death Metal structure that blends some darker atmospheres thanks to the melodic riffs you happen on from time to time. The breakdown towards the end really struggles to leave a larger impact than it does, but the reliance on the bass kicks leaves it coming off weak as far as the studio aspect of the song goes. But, overall, this track is the least hindered by it.

Monstrous is one of those recordings that you really need to sit down and listen to a few times in order to appreciate what is being brought to the table. On a technical side, this recording sounds largely muffled and held back, making it quite the unappealing recording. However, the more you examine just what the band is playing and try to look past its faults, such as the practically non-existent bass kicks and surprisingly uninspiring sound of the guitars, you'll notice some solid compositions that largely come across boring due to the means by which the band chose to record or master this venture. It's a shame, as there's definitely more life to these three songs than what is presented here. If you need a crisp, high budget production value to your Metal, then you are going to dismiss this one right off the bat. However, if you're into bands like Obscura or Vehemence, then Beyond Grace may be right up your alley. With the physical version being relatively cheap, as well as a digital download at a "name your price" cost through Bandcamp, there's no reason to not give this one some consideration.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.