Undead: The dead are raised!
At what point do we simply accept that the new wave of Old School Death Metal evolved beyond a genre revival gimmick and became the dominant sound of Death Metal? It’s been about a decade now since the legions of death metal partly turned away from the hyper-technical smorgasbord of brutality that took hold in the late 2000s in favor of a return to the genre’s roots. Gone is the overly polished and sterile production, the raw and rough tones of the 80s and 90s have returned. Technicality has disappeared for technicality, giving way to a new emphasis on the art of song. And death metal hasn’t really looked back since. Sure, it’s still a genre with seemingly endless sounds that derive from its core, but death metal’s most important sound remains, as it has for the past decade, the New Wave of Old. School Death Metal. Walk in UNDEATHRochester natives and the latest outfit poised to take a spot with the big dogs atop the old-school revival.
Created in 2018, UNDEATH wasted very little time. Two demos – one of which was eventually dubbed into a shared version with Italian cosmic murderers DEVOTED OF THOUGHT – in 2019, followed the following year by a live album that caught the attention of the prolific Prosthetic records. This new relationship has proven to be mutually beneficial in the extreme, UNDEATHthe first LP of Lesions of a different kind becoming one of the most pre-ordered discs of Prosthetichistory while simultaneously launching UNDEATH headfirst into conversations about the strength of the old-school death metal revival, their name mentioned alongside heavy hitters like DOOR BAR, BLOOD INCANTA and TOMB MOLD.
“Man, this is crazy. I mean, we had expectations for Lesions of a different kindwe were proud of it and we wanted to spread it, but I don’t think any of us came close to anticipating the kind of response he got,” the singer explains. Alex Jones. “For me personally, I was just like, ‘Dude, I hope my friends like this’ or ‘I hope people who liked our demos don’t think this is terrible.’ The response we got was something I couldn’t even imagine. I’m just floored by the quality of the production, and I’m so honored that people don’t care.
Fast forward two years and a global pandemic, now UNDEATH are ready to follow up on their first wave of success with It’s time… to rise from the grave. And it’s painfully obvious that there’s no second album syndrome here. UNDEATH knew they had a winning formula, but there was no desire to rehash old ideas – just as there was no fun in the thought of going wild off-road.
“As a band, we just didn’t want to be cute with it. We did it very – I don’t mean simple – but this very classic sounding death metal record and that’s something we’re all proud of. So for the second, we didn’t just want to add synthesizers or change the whole lyrical approach. We just wanted to double all the elements of Lesions of a different kind which we really enjoyed and makes everything bigger and more eye-catching and just more fun. Jones comments on the passage of Lesions of a different kind at It’s time… to rise from the grave and the impact on the growth of UNDEATH family had on file.
“tommy [Wall, bass] and Jared [Welch, guitars] joined the group around the time Lesions… came out, and it opened a lot of doors for us in terms of songwriting possibilities. They are terrific players. They’re super friendly, low-key guys, and they’ve added a much-needed boost and invigoration to UNDEATH in terms of where we could go with these songs. But at the end of the day, we just didn’t want to experiment too much, we didn’t want to overthink anything. We just wanted to make the best death record we were able to make.
Speaking of songwriting possibilities, Jones is keen to reflect on how exciting the future will be with Welche and Wall joins forces with founding guitarist Ray Kyle in a songwriting partnership. “Kyle is definitely still the guy at the helm for a lot of the songwriting, but for the third album – whenever it comes out – we talked about having a bit more of a collaborative process. It’s something Kyle really showed interest, especially now that we have tommy and Jared in the group. I just think it would be great to have more songs that aren’t all Kyle – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just to give new directions to what a UNDEATH the song could potentially sound like.
So when can we expect to get a real show from this juggernaut team of songwriters? Sure, forged bonepenultimate track It’s time… to rise from the grave is the first real taste of writing collaboration, but Jones hints that something more substantial is not too far on the horizon. “The writing doesn’t stop. By the time we’re done recording Lesions of a different kindwe were already two or three songs full It’s time… to rise from the grave, and now we are already formulating riffs and ideas for the next album. It’s not like we’re trying to get ahead of ourselves or running out of time, we just love writing riffs. We love being in a band together, it’s so fulfilling and we’re privileged to be able to do that, so we want to make the most of it.
It’s that last point that really gives you insight into the band. UNDEATH quickly becoming a behemoth of the modern death metal scene, and part of that comes from a desire to enjoy what they do. That’s not to say the band isn’t taken seriously, but having fun seems to be at the heart of what UNDEATH do.
“Some of my favorite bands of all time take themselves very seriously and deal with very intellectual and very serious subjects and I really like that and I appreciate that. But I just know that if UNDEATH never tried to put a straight face on the shit we sing about, we would be fooling ourselves and fooling the people who listen to our music,” Jones funny picture comments UNDEATH have. “I think about what we do on a daily basis, and we just play video games, smoke weed, drink beer. We’re not going to go out into the woods and conduct satanic rituals. We’re just normal guys playing death metal, and that’s all we aspire to.
With death metal – in all its forms – now more popular than ever, and old-school revivals leading the charge for the genre, it must be pretty mind-blowing for Jones and co. both to be involved in a cutting-edge movement in extreme music and to see the genre they love enjoy a period of incredible success.
“It’s amazing. The kind of death metal I’ve always gravitated towards tends to be more rudimentary, meat and potato death metal. The things that stuck with me the most tend to be simpler, more streamlined. It’s about grooves and riffs and less raw technicality and speed. The fact that this style is back in fashion and having such a big resurgence is just delightful to me. as a death metal fan. Jones muses. “I’m glad we started UNDEATH Coincidentally, around the same time, so many other bands started doing the same thing as us. It was great to grow alongside these groups and see our peers achieve success themselves. It’s really great to witness.
And it will always be great to witness it. The New Wave of Old School Death Metal shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, no signs of letting up in quality or intensity. And UNDEATH continues to be its core. Lesions of a different kind was one of the most successful albums of Prosthetic records catalog. It’s time… to rise from the grave looks ready to double that feat, with aplomb. Their next album, when will it arrive? Well, that might just do UNDEATH the kings of modern brutality. Time to rise from the grave? No, the dead have already been raised.
It’s Time… To Rise From The Grave is available now via Prosthetic Records.
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