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Underking – Ghosts Of The Past Award winner

Ghosts Of The Past
by Rachel Montgomery at 29 May 2020, 12:29 PM

UNDERKING brings to mind two words: vintage horror. The traditional metal influences shine through the doom metal elements and instrumental painting of apocalyptic scenes, ritual sacrifice, and dark nights only illuminated by lightning. Founded in 2018 by Maxwell Jeffries, he started the project to keep his music skills sharp after his old band fell apart. In that time, he had 14 songs, but no band. After collaborating with Dustin Burmeister, he compiled his songs into two albums, one of which is “Ghosts Of The Past.” The album itself is great, wonderfully mastered, and a treat for anyone who’s a fan of horror and macabre elements.

The album is a high-powered traditional piece with clear power and speed metal influences throughout. The opening track, “Hexed” begins with rolling guitar riffs. These are interspersed with pauses before gunfire drum rolls and riffs leading into the first verse. The soaring vocal melody contrasts nicely with the rolling riffs behind it. There are some small call-and-response elements in here which add some flair to the song. The end fizzles out in a hybrid of a fade-out and an abrupt ending, which seems to awaken in the next song. “Underking” the title track, has a crawling riff and a minor key that is spooky and chant-like. I love the ambiance of growls interspersed within the song. Plus, the chant-like vocal melody overcasts the song like a delicious, dark spell which makes me want to listen to this song over and over again! The outro is energized and keeps the song going, with an evil laugh serving as a sudden, chilling, close. “Fading Colours” serves as a haunting interlude. Its soft guitar melody is overlaid with a waltz-melody and smooth, haunting vocals.

The opening of the next song, “Black Lungs,” is a jarring contrast, coming in with grittier guitars and a biting opening riff. It’s softened by the higher-pitched, smooth vocals, but this creates an eerier feeling. The guitar solo picks up in an intense, thrashing melody before being ground to a halt. The variety in guitar speed is well done on this track, creating rich, gritty imagery of smokestacks and ruins. The song is followed by another interlude, “Chasing Ghosts” which features hissing, whispering wind and a softly strumming guitar. The song makes the listener feel like something wicked approaches. The rattling chains near the end of the song made my hair stand on end. The follow-up is more of a traditional song, and while “To My Death” stands up, I kind of wish they went darker, scarier with it. With all the buildup from the previous song, I was expecting a frightening number to outclass the other songs on the album. I enjoyed the echoing chorus and rattling drums there, and how it picks up in intensity and fright as it goes on. The closing song, “Witch Hammer” begins with a long, eerie intro that like the previous interludes, feels like a storm is coming in. The chanting and heavy drumbeat give the song ritualistic flair that keeps the listener invested through this long buildup. With the ritualistic chant of “burn, burn,” leading us out, the album concludes as many great horror films do: with doom closing in.

I enjoy how the vocals glide over the instrumentals. “Underking” is my favorite number, as it reminds me so much of a Halloween roller coaster, I can’t resist riding again and again. In fact, I love the simple, but effective horror elements throughout the album which can make one’s skin crawl. If you’re a fan of horror and macabre elements, this is an album worth checking out!

Songwriting: 10
Production: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Hexed
2. Underking
3. Fading Colours
4. Black Lungs
5. Chasing Ghosts
6. To My Death
7. Witch Hammer
Maxwell Jeffries - Instrumentals
Dustin Burmeister – Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 01 December 2022

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