Review Summary: Revamped (2.0) skull crushing machine
Few death metal bands have recently made as much of an impact as New Yorkers Undeath. The simple yet effective formula of 2020's debut album Lesions of a Different Kind
appealed not only to seasoned aficionados but also to casual listeners who usually interact with the genre superficially, rarely exploring its deeper, more intricate galleries. This is mainly due to the band's uncomplicated approach, which evokes the genre's primordial foundations through straightforward songwriting that avoids overly complex territory. A catchy Cannibal Corpse-ish style that orbits Kyle Beam's rhythm guitar with restrained speed, seldom getting into blast beat frenzies. This mid-paced character, and inherent simplicity, are cornerstones of Undeath's identity, an attribute that remains intact on their sophomore studio album It's Time...To Rise From the Grave
. Nevertheless, the boys did not stagnate either creatively or quantitatively, as the power trio became a quintet, and the music evolved, mirroring a tighter, more self-assured collective. Even though the formula remains essentially unchanged, it is clearly noticeable that the band has taken a step forward, refining the musical idea presented two years earlier.
As expected, Cannibal Corpse (Corpsegrinder era) remains the band's main reference, being an omnipresent entity throughout the thirty-five minutes. Both guitars and Alexander Jones' gutturals mirror this devotion ostentatiously, without complexes. While 'Fiend for Corpses' or 'Rise from the Grave' embody this bond almost mimetically, tracks like 'Defiled Again', 'Trampled Headstones' or 'Human Chandelier' bring an additional Morbid Angel-esque flavor to the mix, with the latter also sprouting an unexpected Inanimate Existence-ish chorus that adds a melodic overtone to the composition. The orthodox verse-chorus structure is the musical backbone and a constant throughout the album. It not only provides an extra easy-listening layer but also enhances the aforementioned primordial foundations of the genre, strongly embedded in the band's DNA. 'Necrobionics', 'Rise from the Grave' and 'Head Splattered in Seven Ways' are prime examples of this engaging formula. The former has even the potential to become a modern classic of its kind. The early-Death(ish) sections on 'The Funeral Within'' or the straightforward old-school chorus of 'Bone Wrought' are also worth highlighting for their simple, unpretentious vibes, which hark back to death metal's forefathers. The lads remain loyal to their primary influences and take pride in that. In fact, that's Undeath's greatest strength and the guarantee of a stable, long-lasting career, a bit like Cannibal Corpse or Motörhead.
The addition of bassist Tommy Wall and guitarist Jared Welch to the ranks had a significant impact, especially on the rhythm section which gained more body and prominence. This new synergy is embodied not only in songs like 'The Funeral Within' but also in the mixing and mastering that has boosted, maybe too much, the bass frequencies. While I understand why the band wants to highlight Tommy Wall's performance, in contrast to the debut album, it seems to me that the mastering has taken it a bit too far, somewhat compromising the overall balance. Yet this is merely a technicality, open to interpretation, not calling into question the quality of both songwriting and musical performances, which remain rock-solid, perfectly adjusted to the band's style.
Two years ago, I wondered what the lads could do with greater maturity and more killing tools, and the answer came back with a bang. The New York squad not only confirmed expectations by refining their formula, making it catchier, but also expanded into a stronger collective, thus enhancing their arsenal. A revamped 2.0 skull crushing machine that promises to leave a trail of corpses for years to come.