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Friday 1 September 2023

Reviews: Undergang, S A R R A M , Repentance, Lord Of Shadows (Reviews By Paul Scoble, Ben Price, Mark Young & Rich Piva)

Undergang - De Syv Stradier Af Fordærv (Dark Descent Records / Me Saco Un Ojo Records [Paul Scoble]

Undergang have been making putrid music in their base in Copenhagen, Denmark since 2008. In that time the band have released 5 full length albums, 2 live albums, 10 split albums / EP’s and De Syv Stradier Af Fordærv is the bands forth Ep. Undergang is made up of A. Dødshjælp on drums, D. Torturrdød on guitar and vocals, Mads Haarløv on guitars and Martin Lee Andersen on bass.

Undergang play old school death metal of the nastiest kind. This is pure late eighties, early nineties death metal, so lots of short, tight, de-tuned, super fast blasting with a simple and direct feel to it. Opening song Død is a good example of the style, nasty tremolo picked riffs with horrible vocals. The riffs are fast and flow very well, giving the song a feeling of inertia and pace. It isn’t all fast either, Undergang are clearly fans of slower nastiness as well. Mælkehvid og gennemsigtigt opens with nasty grinding death metal that has a similarity to early (first two albums) Carcass, but then goes into a section that is slow anddeath metal, but this track is mainly about slow and nasty.

Some of the material on De Syv Stradier Af Fordærv has a bit of a D-Beat pacing that works very well. Livløs i en pøl af egne udskillelser has some sections that are have a fantastically rapid D-Beat pacing to them. Forrådnelse also has some great D-Beat parts to it, a feel that this band really excels at.

If all that nastiness isn’t enough for you, then Undergang also do as great line in old school death metal solos, full of delicious dive-bombs and a surprising amount of melody, the guitar solos are a standout feature on this EP.

De Syv Stradier Af Fordærv is a great osdm EP. It’s 21 minutes of blasts, D-Beats, savage riffs, putrid melodies, horrific vocals and grinding tempos. It’s a riot of fun for the whole family (albeit a family that loves death metal), and should not be missed.8 / 10

S A R R A M - Pàthei Màthos (Subsound Records) [Ben Price]

Learning through suffering - sounds a little bleak, don’t you think? Well, that’s exactly what Sardinian multi-instrumentalist Sarram is going for on new effort, Pàthei Màthos (literally, learning through suffering). This genre-fluid, largely instrumental album takes us on a journey through the darkness, encouraging the listener to choose their own adventure while emotionally exploring its depths.

Musically, there’s a lot on offer here. From the apocalyptic, Sunn 0)))-esque dirge dirge of the title track, through the soaring melancholy of the post rock-flavoured Lotus Quest and the synth-led respite of Calma, to the choral cacophony of the fearsome Korimai, S A R R A M leaves nothing to be desired in terms of compositional ability. Naysayers might try (and fail) to suggest in their loudest adenoidal voices that an album encompassing so many genres and making use of a suite of instruments including Zither and Cello alongside traditional rock instruments will inevitably lack focus, but such a criticism falls flat in the face of such carefully constructed soundscapes.

Perhaps the zenith of the record is the parting shot, Long Live, Farewell, which somehow amalgamates all of the genres and moods explored on the albupost rock ambience, gradually building into a wave of mournful drones before fading away into a shimmering serenity - quite literally learning through suffering and then coming out the other side feeling peaceful and elated. It’s a gorgeous track which I accidentally played on loop for seven or eight iterations before noticing and didn’t get bored of - you wouldn’t either.

There is, sadly, one flaw with this record. The lack of percussion does, at times, lend a listener the feeling that the tracks are moving somewhere, but then failing to arrive. During some of the heavier moments, for example, you’d be forgiven for asking when the drums were going to kick in. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple; don’t think about it. Lose yourself in this record and you won’t even notice the lack of drums.
This album is a bit of a rollercoaster; the lack of regular lyrical content allows a listener to project their own emotions onto its peaks and troughs, which makes for a highly personal and moving listen. An instrumental ambient album certainly won’t float everyone’s boat, but those who are prepared to give Pàthei Màthos a chance will find an awful lot to enjoy (and, indeed, learn from) here. 7/10

Repentance - The Process Of Human Demise (Noble Demon) [Mark Young]

The Process Of Human Demise is the sophomore effort from these Chicago natives. It starts as it means to go on – aggressively, with a tightly wound attack that sees them dropping a twelve-song salvo with the intention of battering your ears starting with the high octane Buried By Fear, which has a delicious bottom end chug with some twist and turn riff moments. In just the first song, they have set a marker and whilst its nothing new, it does what it needs to and will be a live classic. 

Storming straight into Withered And Decayed, they play an early ace by deploying the considerable talents of Milo Silvestro (Fear Factory vocalist) and the dynamic changes as It employs that bottom end but brings forth a balanced melody before dropping into a solid break down that thunders along. Upping the ante with Reborn which features the one and only Corey Beaulieu they really start to find their range. It’s a full on rager, with Brandon White knocking the skins off his kit whilst Adam Gilley pulling out the stops with a full-on vocal attack.

They slow down a little to let the groove in on The Process Of Human Demise, but its still a hard hitter, quality riffing at the fore and this is a very strong opening for them, and the best is that they keep this going, with some heavy stuff coming through that mostly avoids repeating what has come before. A subtle picked start to Down In The Water makes way for some muscular guitar work and Brandon once again in full swing. 

The guitar work should be mentioned, as the riffs are razor sharp and the solo breaks are suitably unhinged courtesy of Messrs Glass and Burns. Speaking of which there is a hint of Arch Enemy to be found on A Future Untold, but for me All The Misery just has that something that elevates it above the others on here. This is obviously my opinion, feel free to pick your own. There is a lot going on in this song, melody, blasts, stop start riffing all neatly arranged in a 4-minute ripper.

A Grave For The False Ones provides that moment of respite before they launch into the closing song, Venom Inside and they finish in the same way as they started. Foot to the floor, chugging away with Adam once again giving it his all.

All told this is a great release for Repentance. They do enough with the song arrangements so that they stick with you afterwards, but the main aim has been completed. It’s a heavy statement of intent, and a brutally honest one at that. Is it going to be for everyone? Of course, not it won’t satisfy the technical crowd, but for those looking to where they can find their next favourite band, they should try here. They do everything you want in heavy music, and they do it well. 7/10

Lord Of Shadows - Echoes Of Yore (Meuse Music Records/Tragedy Productions) [Rich Piva]

Here we have Lord Of Shadows, which is some over the top dramatic gothic doom with some clean, not so clean and spoken word vocals. The new record, Echoes Of Yore, will harken back to bands like My Dying Bride, but a bit more over the top than those legends. This is so influenced by MDB that Aaron Stainthorpe sings on all but one track. There is some interesting stuff here, and some stuff I would pass on, but let’s see if the positives outweigh the negatives.

The UK gothic doomsters leverage the piano, a lot, and that is exactly how this one starts us off, with some dramatic spoken word over said keys, that leads us into some of the MDB style doom that everyone loses so much. The rough vocals are a bit much for me, but I generally can be cool with them when coupled with other styles throughout a record, which is what we get on Echoes. More piano up next with Faith Of Thy Beloved. If you want to get more gothy and dramatic, and some powerful female vocals to the mix, which is exactly what is going on here, partnered with a death growl from the depths of hell. This is when I dig the harsh vocals most, when contrasted by the female and then the male clean vocals. 

At one point you get all three “harmonizing” which is pretty cool. There is a lot going on here, most of it good. At The End Of Our Eclipse (I love the titles on this album) is more of the same, heavy growl to kick us off, into the female vocals, and sone nice twin guitar action. Dig it. She Was But An Echo Of Yore also shares vocals with all three styles and is one of the most dramatic over the top goth/doom ballads I have heard in a while. This is a compliment in this case. The back half of Echoes Of Yore is more of the same, which is a good and a bad thing. The nine-minute track Through Memories, I Gave Her Life is long and drags the record a bit, which is the problem with an album that doesn’t mix up what is going on all that much. The back half does make the album seem longer than its real run time, which is something that knocks the score here down a point or two.

The one issue I have with Echoes Of Yore is that it is a bit of a one trick pony. If you don’t like that particular pony, you will not like this at all. But if you are down with over the top, epic gothic doom with all sorts of clean and harsh vocal styles and slow burn piano driven dirges, then you may dig the new one from Lord Of Shadows. I did but will need to be in a certain mood to pull this out. Put on your back and be ready to get way deep in the sadness. 7/10

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