Undeath - It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave Music Album Reviews

Undeath - It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave Music Album Reviews
Zombie armies, mortal standoffs, gravesite robberies: On its ecstatic second album, the Rochester metal band has fun with death.

Undeath don’t fear the future. And why should they worry when they’re so fixated on our collectively inevitable end? The second album from this young crew of old-school death metal diehards, It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave is so swept up in necromania it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly who is in peril or already perished: you, them, or everyone in the world who isn’t enlisted in the militia of undead bionic mercenaries they amass during an uproarious mid-record tandem. Chandeliers of bone and feasts of flesh, zombie uprisings and pillaged cemeteries: Rise From the Grave is an ecstatic celebration of the fetid and the dead, an extraordinary rendering of the ordinary place where we all eventually arrive. Undeath have so much fun with their necrotic obsessions it’s hard not to listen and be grateful you’re not there yet.

Nearly 40 years ago, Undeath would have been the subject of senatorial scrutiny, members of the prurient-and-satanic cadre that Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center vilified before Congress. But the Rochester quintet is now able to sprint without worry down the controversial and bloody-minded path that its New York forebears in Cannibal Corpse—or the string of Florida predecessors like Morbid Angel, Death, and Deicide that ultimately drew them south—arduously bushwhacked decades ago.

Despite the stylistic leaps and bounds within death metal in the generation since, Undeath follow those bygone formulas, from album covers depicting fantastical murders and desecrated graveyards to ghoulish scenes forever-grunted over belligerent riffs and relentless drums. There are splenetic solos, eerie electronic intros, and rubber-band bass rumbles. This isn’t the future but, instead, a reinvigorated past. If you have even a marginally informed stereotype of the way primitive death metal sounds or feels, it probably resembles Undeath and Rise From the Grave.

But unlike their sometimes hilariously self-serious inspirations, Undeath grew up online— “internet music nerds” and “overweight gamers from Upstate New York,” as they put it in recent interviews. The most brutal underground death metal and the most addictive mainstream pop, then, were only a click apart, a lesson they incorporate into these 10 wonderfully gnarly and memorable barrages. Undeath aren’t just grinding away, attempting to sound tough or inventive or necessarily hidebound: They’re here to bask in a wonderfully ridiculous taboo—having fun by exaggerating the horrors of death, making it seem more wicked and harrowing than it already is. “It’s about having a good time with us,” admitted vocalist Alexander Jones in Spin, “reveling in this admittedly silly thing…death metal.”

“Head Splattered in Seven Ways,” to wit, details an absurdist armed standoff between two dudes. All the death-metal hallmarks are present—vocals so violent you can practically hear the larynx rip, massive riffs that crash down in waves, cymbals that dance over tides of blast beats. As Jones demands answers from his victim, he repeats, “Tell me the truth,” the band making space for a refrain so barbed you may hum along the second time he coughs it up, even if this is the only death metal song you’ve ever heard.

Or there’s “Necrobionics,” the first of those two tunes about the mounting zombie army. The band is as agile as it is aggressive, with righteous guitarists Jared Welch and Kyle Beam stuffing a symphony of melodrama into their compact riffs. Jones perches above it all like some pop-star gargoyle, squealing “Piles of death/Corpses en masse.” He sells this ludicrous hook by treating each syllable like the opposite side of a melodic seesaw, a trick he might have learned from Rihanna’s “Umbrella” or any number of arena-sized anthems. Either way, it sticks, and it’s possible to imagine audiences not clad only in black shouting it back at Undeath.

This approachability is bigger than hooks. Beam is an intuitively crafty songwriter, tapping simple linguistic tools—alliteration, internal rhyme, rhythmic variety—to magnetize these morbid tales before they even reach the chorus. You get the narrative, even if you don’t understand every word. The band also wedges their own little mementos into these tracks. Bassist Tommy Wall (alongside Welch, new to Undeath for this LP) opens the record with a rumbling line that catches much like the start of the Breeders’ “Cannonball.” The buzzsaw riff of “The Funeral Within,” pushed to a devilish pace by drummer Matt Browning, is nearly as memorable as Jones’ chanted refrain, a rollercoaster of four rhyming lines about mortal sin and rotten skin. Undeath are here to have and supply a good time.

It’s fair to wonder why Undeath—who do very little that hasn’t been done for decades in death metal, no matter the oomph and conviction with which they do it—warrant either a big record deal or the sort of consensus accolades they’re enjoying, present paean included. At least in part, Undeath simply have the good luck of bad times. Their goofy, gory cemetery fantasies serve as welcome pressure-release valves for these fraught days. Undeath are playing games with death, the thing so many of us spend so much of our lives fretting. “Tissue from the brain was dead but is now alive,” Jones barks during “Enhancing the Dead,” the second of those two songs about an army of weaponized zombies. That’s also how It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave might make you feel—a little less worried about dying and a little more alive, at least for these 36 gleeful minutes.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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Undeath - It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave Music Album Reviews Undeath - It’s Time… To Rise From the Grave Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, May 05, 2022 Rating: 5

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