If Undeath's Alexander Jones is representing the new voice of death metal, and Undeath is carrying the torch for "what death metal has become," I'm perfectly fine with it. It's Time… To Rise from the Grave is a fantastic death metal record that injects a hefty dose of vigor into an already explosive genre. The record both manages to sound extremely fresh and give us some warm nostalgia at the same time.
"Rise from the Grave" is the first single the band released many weeks ago and as I soon as I heard it I knew I wanted more. I mean… listen to those dual leads! Incredible. This quintet from upstate New York have a sound that brings me back to the early days of death metal. And I don't say this lightly because I was there – in that scene – when it all happened decades ago. There aren't many newer bands, short of Exhumed, who give me those same chills and feelings, transporting me to the days of my waning youth while just starting out in college radio.This was before the internet even became a real thing and we almost never heard death metal over the airwaves. The genre was most definitely underground, with music disseminated via tape trading, and Undeath seems to have studied the scene from years past extremely well. They just get it.
But it's much more than the nostalgic feelings I get from the record. Undeath isn't recycled. Undeath isn't a clone and they're not generic. Yes, they have a classic death metal sound that will be quite familiar to many, however, there is something special here. Perhaps it's the vocals, which are absolutely spot on. Alexander Jones has clearly been taking careful notes and he really makes the effort in terms of pitch and delivery. When you match his vocals with the absolutely absurd drum signatures present in the music, you have the foundation very well established. However, I think what really makes this record different and refreshing is the ultra-tight songwriting and the depth of the hooks in the guitars. The music is edited appropriately and the band doesn't over do it by being too "brutal" or too over-the-top. The songs are short and meaningful, averaging three and half minutes, and that's a key part of the formula here – there's no excess in a genre that absolutely reeks from excess over the past two decades. Check out "Necrobionics," as an example of this. (And how can you not love their fondness for 90's first person shooter games meshed with a song about body horror?)
"Head Splattered in Seven Ways" has a title that's reminiscent of something you might find as a dish on the Food Network's Chopped. The age-restricted video also plays up on that theme as a sorry individual is literally dismembered through four minutes of good 'ole fashioned butchering with extra splatter. It's got a solid Cannibal Corpse vibe to it and really this entire record seems to be worshiping at the Cannibal Corpse altar. In fact, I might suggest that Undeath gives us more of an authentic Cannibal Corpse type sound than so many of the Cannibal Corpse-like clones out there. And did I mention that bass? Relative newcomer to the band Tommy Wall crushes it. I'm glad he got space in the mix.
Tracks like "Defiled Again" have this depth in tone and delivery that you can't help but delve deep into. This particular song has a piercingly evil sounding guitar solo to boot. Undeath, of course, also gets points for creativity in the song title department with such instant classics like "Human Chandelier" (very Hannibal Lecter), "Trampled Headstones," and "Defiled Again." I also keep hearing that old school Carcass tone in some of these tracks as well, which is something that's going to appeal to many. They have the lyrics, the visuals and the sound altogether.
It's Time… To Rise from the Grave is one of the best death metal records I've heard so far in 2022. It has hit me "right in the feels" and I really appreciate the songcraft and the homework these guys did before putting it all together. This record is ferocious. It is rough. It is savage. And importantly, it leaves me wanting more after I listen to it. But it is also quite fun and that's really why I love this band and this record so much.