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Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry Award winner

Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 20 September 2021, 7:15 AM

UNDERDARK is a black metal band hailing from England. They formed in 2015 and "Our Bodies Burned Brightly On Re-Entry" is their first full length album. Previously, they released an EP in 2016 and a split in 2018. What I enjoy about this album so much is that it weaves in many different genres despite also being very much black metal. There is a raw and wild energy to this five song, 36 minute album but the focus on song writing creates an adventurous atmosphere and wields a surprising sense of discovery.

The album sounds good too which makes this journey even more digestible. The vocals are gritty and grimy but the music is a little clearer—a powerful combination that balance the power of production to keep it from being too slick or too foggy. The band's sense of melody mixes seamlessly into the more abrasive parts, coming in and out of the filth as needed. There is much emotional impact to be discovered here, too. There is an air of struggle and desperation throughout the album but it isn't hopeless.  Much of this impact comes from Abi, who is one outstanding vocalist.

Their lyrics touch on themes such as anti-fascism and anti-racism and it is always good for any band to take a stand against these ideals. There isn't any reason for them to exist in general but specifically the metal scene is all too often accused of these notions. So thank you UNDERDARK for speak against the horrible aspects of humanity. "Qeres" opens the album with lush clean guitar and spoken word vocals. The melodic bass adds another beautifully tragic layer as the song builds up. At the 1:37 mark, Abi's vocals ignite a fire that burns hot and bright. The music mixes both distorted and clean tones while the drums consistently heighten the atmosphere. Afterwards, the energy boils over with melodic overtones and it washes over me while grabbing my attention and never letting go. Around the 6:15 minute mark, the melodic tinges are dropped for solid riffing and a  crushing beat that ends the song strongly.

The title track is next and it is a fucking whopper of a song. It begins fast and furious but still keeps a firm grasp on atmospheric soundscapes, not unlike the post genre.  At times, the song in even dips into a much faster and intense style of melodic death.  Around the 4:14 mark the music fades off with Abi still screaming. After the dust settles, an ambient style movement with clean instrumentation settles in with Abi returning to scream her lungs out. Hints of emo or screamo can be discovered here. Trust me, it works and this whole section is epic, twisted, beautiful and impressive to the tenth degree. As this goes on, the drumming increases intensity as the volume gets louder—-then at the 7:19 mark the song explodes into black metal carnage.

"Coyotes," which from my understanding is  about the brutal treatment of refugees at the American/Mexican border, is appropriately covered with a somber blanket in the beginning, sees the band slowing down the tempo quite a but. This doomier landscape gives the song a huge wall of sound but the instruments, especially the bass, still have plenty of open fields to play around in.  Their faster paced style returns at the song moves along, going from somber to outright anger. The ending is a potent mixture of melodic bass, guitars and blackened growls that are held together by the drums which compliment the entire package and hold up the emotional weight.

"With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats" is all consuming, much like the flames of which the song speaks, and rips into you right away. Whirlwind of drums, swirling guitars and a devastating vocal performance carries the song perpetually forward until the 4:00 mark which once again has the band proving that clean melodic portions of songs can have just as impact as blazing black metal. The final track, "Skeleton Queen," is a MASSIVE track that truly shows the power of this young band and also a representation of what they are all about. This song in particular blends together a lot of elements: black, doom, death, post all find their way into this seven minute epic ride. Musically, it is stalwart, focused and unforgiving in going for the throat in dealing with personal issues.  I think we can all relate to the frustrations and stress of day to day living and this magical song grasps these ideas of not feeling like your good enough sometimes and runs with them.

UNDERDARK have written a blistering yet melodic and emotionally devastating debut full length. They are new, they are powerful and this album proves they are here to stay.

Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Qeres
2. Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry
3. Coyotes
4. With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats
5. Skeleton Queen
Stephen – Bass
Dan – Drums
Ollie – Guitars
Adam – Guitars
Abi – Vocals
Record Label: Surviving Sounds


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