Interested in weird death metal demos? Are these guys going anywhere? Who knows. But I can tell you that this is some odd but equally promising stuff. Grab your cutlery, ‘cause we’re digging in.
I’ve been trying to stray away from old-school death metal material as of late, as I feel like its been getting too much of my well-deserved attention. Well, who are we kidding, we’re still covering a lot of gritty underground death metal, but you’ll see that a lot of other subgenres have been put on the chopping block as of late. From traditional heavy metal to whatever Oozing Wound is, diversity has never felt so fresh.
Speaking of fresh, here’s some fetid sewer-spewer death metal for you, courtesy of Undeath. Based in Brooklyn, New York, this is Undeath’s first public recording! Its always nice to own one of the first sets of ears to hear a band’s sound, especially since this sounds so promising.
Old-school death metal is traditionally a cookie-cutter genre. Any variation made to this Godly formula swerves it in another direction, perhaps to the technical end of things, or the more low-end, “brutal” end of the spectrum. To be honest, neither have really been my cup of tea (goblet of gore, anyone?), and for the most part, my tastes have lain within the chunky, grimacing, and grimy flavour of the style. Primitive sonics have never sounded better.
Luckily for us, Undeath’s Demo ’19 falls within realms of old-school desire, but also incorporates a bunch of unorthodox musical elements. Demo ’19 thus falls somewhere between primitive and technical, I’d say, but who the hell cares. Just take a listen.
Opening with an in-your-face attitude and nothing less, “Unadorned Coffin” sets the pace for the release, for the most part. The track serves to introduce the listener to Undeath’s chosen production style, but to be honest, this is the most tame number on this 5-track offering. Let’s move on.
“Ineffable Tumult” reveals exactly what Undeath are up to down in the Big Apple. This is the kind of weird stuff I’m interested in. Halfway through the track, we’re introduced to a very harmonic, and borderline catchy guitar sweeping aspect which kind of goes up and down the note scale. Furthermore, following a few patterned sections, the vocals kick in, mimicking this ascending/descending pattern. Its one of those things that you can’t really describe, but whatever it is, I haven’t heard it done in a death metal song before.
Demo ’19 continues on this path towards the absurd, incorporating a whole slew of weird riffs and sections that just do some odd guitar stuff. Demo ’19 is also fairly diverse, featuring faster jams mentioned prior, groovier head-bobbing stuff like “Perverted Self Reflections,” and even a minute-long ominous instrumental with “Mortuary Breeze.” Gotta air that thing out, man.
While I do applaud the massive endeavour, especially since this is a demo and their first public recording, there could be some more work done in the cohesion department. As mentioned above, the demo kind of just “starts” with “Unadorned Coffin,” which breaks out in a frenzy of drums and maniacal vocals. While this technique of beginning an album with a full-frontal assault has certainly been done successfully before, it has to really be done right, and Undeath kind of missed the mark on this one. The demo sounds like it just begins halfway through a track, which is a shame because when “Unadorned Coffin” actually sinks in it reveals a lot of value.
Furthermore, the ambient/eerie minute-long “Mortuary Breeze” feels like filler. The band does some interesting stuff with wind chimes and harmonies, but it kind of falls flat. The stereotypical instrumental placed before a release’s closing track has been done repeatedly before, and thus the competition here is fairly competent. However, its just an eerie instrumental, so the feat of creating something that fits within your work isn’t too difficult of an endeavour, however, once again, this one kind of misses the mark. I appreciate the effort, but for a track like this to stand out, it has to really catch my attention.
With that being said, I’m being a little harsher on this demo because it is, well, a demo. However, the band decided that they wanted to make a cohesive work with diverse tracks and instrumentals, so I’m rating this like I would an EP. I’d rather Undeath go this path and end up taking some constructive criticism rather than see them release a tame and mediocre demo only to see them struggle when full releases come along. The songs really are strong on this one, there are just some album-oriented kinks to be sorted out here. I’m really looking forward to an official release.