Undeath – It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave


New York State quartet, Undeath, are one of many bands Prosthetic Records scooped out of the obscure underground in the early stages of their development following their debut 2019 demo. 2020’s Lesions of a Different Kind earned rave reviews for its gruesome death metal experience, and now they’re on the lips of many media establishments who see them as a potential steppingstone to the next generation. Clearly, they have an abundance of supporters among gatekeepers and casuals, and fans of extreme metal will find little to criticise with this sophomore effort.

There’s something amiss if a death metal group fail to produce a surprise reaction within the first thirty seconds of their opening album track, yet Undeath take only ten seconds to have this effect on you. You ask the question: how malevolent and chaotic is the intro? Nobody told Undeath about compression or maximum decibel levels when they entered the studio. Imagine a messier version of Sanguisugabogg with more groove and old school drum snares. Drummer, Matt Browning, reminds us that blast beats should never dominate a death metal record – this is a genre born from thrash in its original guise. Here, the skank beats and tremolo riffs pulsate like classic Bolt Thrower. The footwork on follow-up, ‘Defiled Again’, is just as impressive, like mid-90s Morbid Angel with chunkier guitars to pummel your ears. You can even enjoy the low guttural phonation of Alexander Jones’ vocals when the music has as much purpose and punch as this.

Perhaps the biggest wonderment of this LP is how many genres it swallows up into its death metal tidal wave. ‘Rise From the Grave’ centres around a morbid gang vocal chorus and dares to contemplate an anthem based on the absurd fantasy of a zombie army coming to life. No doubt there’s an analogy for modern life in the lyrics, but you’re too busy spinning your head to notice. How addictive is the mid-tempo bludgeon of ‘Necrobionics’ with its punk-rock intro and crunchy verse formations?  You can hear a filthier version of Carcass’ Heartwork in the dynamics and devastation of this magnificent track.

The superb naming conventions of this record give It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave an undeniable charm. You know a song called ‘Human Chandelier’ will blow your head off, and they don’t disappoint with this bass-heavy head-crusher. This is what you wanted the Frozen Soul record from last year to sound like – muscular, slimy, evil, and as impenetrable as Mortician. Only one thing prevents Undeath emancipating from enjoyable to sublime, and that’s the lack of standout compositions. This is a consistent LP with no weak songs, but only three of the ten cuts leave you with mouth agape. We need five of these to be talking about the shortlist for death metal album of the year.

Undeath are on the right trajectory and could lead the next wave of death metal into the future. It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave will be an important record in their evolution, yet it won’t define them. Their next effort will be the crucial one, but this sophomore effort has plenty to merit repeat listens.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/04/2022

Record Label: Prosthetic Records

Standout tracks: Fiend for Corpses, Necrobionics, Human Chandelier

Suggested Further Listening: Frozen Soul – Crypt of Ice (2021), Immolation – Acts of God (2022), Sanguisugabogg – Tortured Whole (2021)