Photo By Jared Welch
IT SEEMS THAT EVERY OTHER DAY a brilliant new death metal record emerges to further the scene’s ongoing renaissance (not that we’re complaining, mind you).
Yet even in these heady days of death metal supremacy, Undeath’s debut LP, Lesions of a Different Kind, hacks a limb-strewn path to the front of 2020/21’s jostling pack; its stomach-churning yet time-honoured ethos of barbed vocal hooks and putrid grooves understandably striking a diabolical chord with death-heads the world over.
Indeed, hailing from Rochester, New York, the band’s sound is routinely compared to the traditionally touted greats of the NY scene (Cannibal Corpse, Incantation, etc.), yet as guitarist Kyle Beam explains, Undeath won’t be shackled by simply retreading the (un)hallowed ground of their hometown heavyweights.
“Honestly, a lot of the NYDM bands are our favourite bands anyway,” he says, “so I suppose they definitely do have an influence on our sound, but I wouldn’t say that’s where our primary influence lies. [We’ve] tons of influence from Floridian stuff as well as Finnish. We don’t really try to adhere to a hyper-specific death metal style when [the bands] are all so fucking similar and all play the same eight notes anyway.”
It is, therefore, unsurprising that Lesions is one the most infectious—and hell, downright catchy—death metal records of recent times, a focus on grunt-along vocal refrains and deftly hook-laden tunes handled with startling confidence for such a box-fresh unit of fret-wranglers.
“In my opinion, the best bands [are the ones that] have the best songs and have the best hooks,” Beam imparts. “Specifically, in terms of death metal records that scratch that itch for me, I would say Covenant, Severed Survival, The Bleeding, Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious, Slaughter of the Soul, every Bolt Thrower song—all entry-level stuff by 'metalhead standards', but frankly, it's entry-level for a reason.
“I like to think we are doing something slightly different than most other bands currently,” Beam adds, “but I love most of the new bands that crop up. Extreme music in general is just killing it. You can even find its aesthetics used by pop artists at this point, so hopefully it will continue to grow.”
This unerring devotion to tried and true songwriting know-how, coupled with some none-more-metal lyrical spew (classic first-person shooter Doom is highlighted as a major influence: “What is more death metal than shoulder-mounted, heat-seeking rocket launchers attached to an armoured skeleton?”), has seen the band swiftly snatched up by Prosthetic Records, alongside garnering acclaim from the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder main-man Trevor Strnad. Underground devotee Strnad also lends his acid-damaged pipes to the record’s title track. “He [has been] a fan since our demo came out on Caligari Records,” Beam notes.
With touring plans naturally scuppered for the last twelve months, Undeath have been “writing [their] asses off” and look to hit the road (if possible) and enter the studio this year. With so much in store, expect Undeath to drive a stake through the heart of any chasing peers during 2021. —TONY BLISS