Ugly, grim death metal always is welcome in the spatial Meat Mead Metal estates, and as long as it’s unpolished and furious, we’re willing to listen to just about anything. Nothing necessarily against the polished stuff. It just doesn’t have the same gut blow quality to it, so we tend to find it rather boring.
Luckily we have the former on our hands today, and certainly not the latter, when it comes to Swedish death crew Under the Church. Formed from the ashes of the criminally underappreciated (at least until recently) Nirvana 2002, this band got to work making guttural, fierce, far-from-polished death that should make the old guard stand and take notice. In fact, just the name Under the Church conjures a certain vision, a horrific setting that makes it seem like you will come face to face with the souls of the unliving who still find a way to walk upright and feast far under the earth’s crust. And the music you get from these three on the band’s first full-length effort “Rabid Armageddon” only enhances those ideas. It’s ugly and mean, and it’s designed to haunt and harm.
As previously noted, Under the Church was forged into being by former Nirvana 2002 members Larks Henriksson (bass) and Erik Qvick (guitars and drums), and along the way, they brought vocalist Mik Annetts into the fold to complete their unholy trio and start their horrific campaign. They first rose to the surface on a 2013 demo, and then they returned a year later with their self-titled EP that carried over some of the songs from their initial offering. Now, a year later, they strike back with a nine-track display that could have bubbled up two decades ago with no one thinking anything strange. It’s the honest to true death, and it’s a smothering effort that will hurt you.
The record opens with “Sodomy & Blasphemy,” as strong a way possible to begin this package along with a title that really holds no secrets as to what you’re about to hear. The guitars rumble, while the vocals bubble in the back of Annetts’ throat, with lines such as, “I am my own master, I rule my destiny,” being delivered with aplomb and disgust. Strong soloing lights up and carries the song to its grim pit. The title track launches with the vocals being delivered at a faster clip, the chorus sounding like it’s choking on bile, and more tremendous guitar work to get the blood flowing. “Triad Ov Inquisitors” has a slow burn pace at first, with the growls scraping away and the band looking to do calculated violence that’s going to take a while. Eventually the pace picks up, and the band clobbers you until you beg for submission. “Magus” has a stomping tempo, fast and heavy with strong riffs chugging. The track also dines on thrash’s bones, giving off a sense of swagger and a poke to your wounds. “Suspended in Gore” goes back to that taking-your-time thing, making the most of the track’s running by picking and choosing their bodily targets, hitting, and backing off. There’s a deep sense of doom to this one, with the band bringing dark destruction and a finish that is mean and burly.
“Walpurgis Night” is charnel and filthy, with a ritualistic scene being set, and Annett urging, “Sleep with one eye open, don’t miss the gathering.” Once again, the soloing is top notch, burning its way over the song, and the back end grinds away and drops a dark curtain on this thing. “Mangled to a Bloody Mess” leaves very little to the imagination just from its name, and the track is built on infernal growls, riffs rushing to the forefront, and a very detailed portrait painted of a scene that would stop your heart is you ever stumbled upon it. “Penance” also injects doom as it slithers and slurs its way, leaving a dank trail of blood behind it. The song feels dizzying and disorienting, which is a good way to stymie you for when the burst of violence follows. Closer “The Path to Cthulhu” rambles forward, painting a picture of inhuman terror, with Annett wailing about “indescribable evil from beyond.” The track is gruff and menacing, trucking forward heavily, but then on a dime, the tempo switches. From there, it’s a feverish scramble from terror, avoiding curses, and painting a bloody picture that would scare even the strongest, most daring among us. No one lives though this, and these guys make that point abundantly clear.
Under the Church really are just getting started with their carnage, and this first full-length effort met all expectations I had for it after I thoroughly enjoyed their EP last year. Anytime a band comes in with an effort that feels like tried-and-true death, with warts and puss, it’s a refreshing thing. Yeah, it’s putrid and ugly, but that’s what death was meant to be. These guys have known that all along, and they’re putting everyone else to the test.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/UnderTheChurch
To buy the album, go here: http://pulverised.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.pulverised.net/