Written by: The Administrator
As both a (card-carrying) metalhead and nerd, I absolutely live for the occasional convergence of A. metal and B. nerd stuff. Luckily for this particularly highfalutin scribe, the Sleeping Village effectively has a band on retainer for such stuff: namely, Underking, the solo project of one Maxwell Jeffries. You may recognize the name from our premiere of the Avatar: The Last Airbender-inspired "Dragon of the West." His latest barn-burner of a track, entitled "Shadow I've Become," dives unabashedly into the mythos of Star Wars, taking as its tortured protagonist our favorite son of Dathomir. That's right, dear readers: it's time for a little Maul.
Obviously, however, you don't need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this offering. While flitting between a variety of loosely defined genres, the track itself is built on a hotbed of hard-hitting riffage and disgustingly infectious vocal hooks.
It’s so damn catchy that I’m almost tempted to apply the “pop metal” descriptor...if only pop metal actually provided, y’know, a positive connotation. The central riff feels almost power metal-esque in its blatantly energetic approach--minus, of course, the magniloquence inherent to unwarranted technical shredfests. The guitar does its job while staying out of its own way, which I always appreciate.
But the true star of the show are the vocals. My god, the vocals. The chorus lurking prominently herein is an earworm of sarlaacian scope: this thing embeds itself with a fierce determination, soaring high on the wings of Jeffries' incredible vocal effort. This guy can sing with the best of them, displaying a particularly impressive balance between emotion and power. While lyrics that borrow vividly from sci-fi or fantastical fandoms tend to feel cheesy and gimmicky by benefit of their respective association, the story Underking delivers creates the same sort of genuine emotional investment one finds in the Darth Maul/Obi Wan Kenobi revenge saga. There’s so much captured here: pride, anger, triumph, determination, defeat. My commentary on Underking’s “Dragon of the West” applies once more: “A believable narrator is a rare quality, and Underking created a story worth investing in.”
“Shadow I’ve Become” serves as one of several preludes to Underking’s forthcoming full-length. Needless to say, I’m very excited to see where the remaining tracks take us. Check back at a later date for our review of said album in full!
Underking - "Shadow I've Become" was released Jan. 29th, 2021, and can be found here.
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!