Written by: The Administrator
Over the past few years of reviewing death metal, I have perhaps come down a tad harshly on the stuff that seeks to venerate the old school rather than cast it away in pursuit of intentional evolution. Sheer worship, while often enjoyable, is seldom enough to keep this haggard scribe's interest outside of the immediate moment. But this year, the more progressive efforts--the stuff that seeks to kick down doors and replace the rustic-yet-utilitarian furnishings with avant-garde decor--just aren't hitting the spot. This has resulted in an odd craving for no-nonsense belligerence.
In other words: pass the Lesions Of A Different Kind. Let's get bloody.
As a rule, Undeath are incredibly proficient instrumentalists, with a dizzying array of leads, in particular, routinely stealing the show. The majority of the riffs herein are catchy as all hell, and the vocal hooks are hooky in a flexible fashion that many, many old school death metal bands simply never achieve. The drums are relentless, and the bass--which could admittedly be utilized further to inject additional oomph--maintains that putrid groove we death metal fans invariably crave. Their greatest strength, however? The uncanny transitions, edge-of-your-seat solos, and tendency to switch things up at the drop of a hat add a level of dynamic intrigue that truly sets Undeath apart.
Undeath are apparent masters of making the audience forcibly feel the guitar's relentless ebb and flow. Take, for example, the stomach-churning riffage on the title track, which feels like unto engulfment in an undulating swarm of locusts. Followup "Entranced by the Pendulum" is similarly physical, featuring a motley entourage of spine-rocking riffs that, when observed from a singular and isolated perspective, simply don't seem able to fit within the cramped confines of a single track. The movement from motif to fresh motif should be lurching and jarring, but instead, ever transition herein is arrestingly natural and cohesive. Tempo is a constant plaything as well: take the sasquatchian "Acidic Twilight Visions," which physically feels like lodging a chainsaw in a thick limb only to discover that it is, alas, swiftly running out of juice. It rips and binds, confidently slowing down affairs with an unexpectedly sludgy heft.
As with 99% of old school death metal albums swimming (or barely treading water, more often than not), Lesions Of A Different Kind does have its moments of staleness. The tracks that sit squarely in the “thing that have been done to death” camp essentially serve as extended transitions between the attention-grabbing moments, and, as such, feel more akin to the glut of OSDM that is proudly stuck in the past. “Kicked in the Protruding Guts,” for example, lacks a direction and doesn’t feel distinct enough to compare with the surrounding tracks. It has thus been relegated to the “filler” department whilst listening. However, I hasten to add, this isn’t a death sentence--far from it. In the hands of a lesser band, these less exciting tracks could very well be the cream of the crop. Advertently or not, Undeath have raised their own bar--albeit in a remarkably short span of time.
Another strength worth note is the brevity on display. Lesions Of A Different Kind clocks in around a tidy 36 minutes, which is long enough to get the point across, but not so long as to lose the attention of an audience that is, for better or for worse, on the verge of being riffed out. Keeping things short and punishing was a smart move, and demonstrates a certain restraint that bodes quite well for the future.
Undeath have been riding the hype machine pretty hard over the past few months, and while the (often overtly hyperbolic) death metal locomotive has led me to disappointment numerous times over the past few years, Lesions Of A Different Kind is pretty damn deserving of the praise it has received. Not every track is a knockout, but the many highlights are beyond heavyweight. The weakest moments aren’t brought down by less-than-stellar musicianship, but rather by a focus on pure worship--which frankly speaks more to the priorities of the genre in general than a particular failing on Undeath’s part. All told? This is a very solid album from a band that is remarkably well positioned to make a monolithic statement with their sophomoric effort.
Undeath - Lesions Of A Different Kind was released Oct. 23rd, 2020 from Prosthetic Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!