08 May 2022 - Knut
Death Metal | Prosthetic Records | Release date: 22 Apr 2022
Undeath from Rochester, US released their full length debut in October 2020 when we were on our couches watching paint dry and plants grow a couple of centimeters and maybe also watching zombies stagger and run on our streaming platforms. Their first album was promising and made us wriggle some body parts and long for moshpits. Now, as the world eases the lockdowns, it is time to rise from the couch and throw ourselves into the whirls of the moshpits Undeath´s music will instigate.
Some bands seek to expand the genre they are defined into with great success. Some bands like Undeath stay true to their genre with similar success. They release an album that through 36 minutes of hell bent for leather spits galloping Death Metal based on the forefathers of metal, the Finnish and Swedish scene in the 90s and with long nods to bands like Cannibal Corpse. With this, Undeath bring us a technically immaculate Death Metal album that might be a classic milestone when looking back some time in the future.
They were formed as a trio in 2018 and have morphed into a quintet playing so tight it seems like they have been a band for decades. The album opens with a fraction of a bass solo yanking us into ”Fiend for Corpses” with the deep growling of the impressive vocalist, singing “I eat their meat/Fiend for corpses/In the cemetery they lay buried”. They do not hold back the zombie related gore, living dead and mire with some necrophilia thrown in. To paraphrase the composer Richard Wagner: the words give the music direction, the music gives the words depth. If this had been released in 1985, Tipper Gore and the whole lot of PMRC would have fainted as one entity.
The first song quickly unveils what this is about: Heavy, mucky and melodic riffs from the guitars, a vocalist that holds no growling back and a rhythm section with solid bass work and a drummer at blast speed while vigorously hitting the cymbals and the snare drum. At the 1:50 mark there is once again a fraction of a second with bass ahead of a high-pitched fast guitar solo. It lasts until the band turns the riffs into galloping chugging at the 2:40 mark while the growling leads the way to the second song ”Defiled Again”.
That song is a showcase in effective riffage behind the growls with some long riffs expanding the melodic theme. There is a swirling section before the rushing riffs are back. Towards the end, a shimmering guitar solo hits your skull while the song ends with one hit on a bass guitar string. It is time to rise and gallop out of the necropolis with ”Rise from the Grave”. The bolting music is torn apart by short repetitive solo riffs. A short burst of thunder before we reach the world of the living followed by a quick rapture from the snare as the riffs make way for a guitar solo leading back into the heavy parts.
The five musicians are obviously brilliant at what they do. They could easily be tempted to expand the songs showing off their brilliance. But they do not, there is not one note too much, not a solo too long, not a riff too exuberant. They show that a less-is-more attitude makes for great Death Metal music just as the next song, ”Necrobionics” conveys. It is like the zombies are dancing among the living to a fast, rhythmic and melodic song with riffs that elevate he staggering undead. It becomes quite chaotic before chugging and blasting beats increase the pace and the moshpit I see before me whirls becomes ever faster.
The onslaught of riffs continues on ”Enhancing the Dead until a swirling section which engages and halts before it is driven forward by the blasts of the rhythm section. This is music that needs full volume. It stumbles towards the end with clear references to the forefathers of metal music and clocks in at 3:55 minutes and is the longest song on the album.
”The Funeral Within” tumbles a bit in the start before it stomps onward. The bass rises up in the sonics to take the lead for a few moments while it once more halts the music for a second. This is really the bassist´s song right up to the change in pace and further into the gush of solo riffs and the raging within the song when they swirl around each other steadily lead by the bass and snare drum. All of a sudden we are yanked into a song with the suggestive title ”Head Splattered in Seven Ways” where the pace increases into head-spinning, versatile Death Metal with riffs ripping the world apart. A crescendo build-up with long dragged out riffs halted by a short burst from the bass introduces piercing guitar solos fighting each other before the song gallops to the end.
On ”Human Chandelier” the fire burns brighter in the moshpit as melodic riffs rise above it and ignite the energy further with incoming crashing cymbals. The bass halts the pace for a second and becomes the leading riffage to the end of the song. Never holding back the riffage pushes the undead forward on ”Bone Wrought” with a rapid and piercing guitar solo while everybody is running away or towards something. The album closes hurtling through ”Trampled Headstones” only with short pauses to look back over the shoulders for the raging zombies. The last song ends with the Death Metal music fading away, sinking back into the tomb until it is time to rise again.