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Undrask - Battle Through Time

Undrask
Battle Through Time
by Anna Chase at 27 April 2017, 10:55 AM

UNDRASK is a Melodic Death Metal band based out of the last place you’d think to look for Death Metal, the unassuming city of Greensboro, North Carolina. They first formed as a group in 2013, and a year later released their self-titled EP. Their most recent efforts culminated in the 2017 production of their only full length album so far, “Battle Through Time”. Judging from a bit of well-intentioned Facebook stalking on my part, the band seems down-to-earth, and most importantly fosters a great sense of humor (from their resident merch table skeleton to their music video antics) and makes sure to establish good rapport with their fans. The band’s early EP’s show clear influences from other Melodic Death acts, such as 2000’s-era IN FLAMES and CHILDREN OF BODOM, for sure. Alexi Laiho is one of my all-time favorite guitarists, I’d recognize his riffs anywhere, and I could quite distinctly see the similarities between Laiho’s style and that of UNDRASK.

“Conscripted”, the first song, blasts into full-on Heavy Metal from the get-go. The guitars and bass flow well together, and the electric keyboard during the intro clearly harkens back to their CHILDREN OF BODOM influences. However, the rest of the track is different enough with just a bit of added groove to the guitar riffs to distinguish them from other Melodic Death Metal acts. Wynn’s vocals can seem a bit disjointed at times, but overall, he’s a growling beast with incredibly strong vocal chords. “Champion of the Dawn” relies on distorted and layered guitar riffs imposed over rapid-fire drums in order to create an absolute head-banger of a song that flips from rhythm to rhythm effortlessly. The rippling guitar riffs trickle over the other instruments and vocals in order to establish a technical and detailed melody coupled with a catchy chorus.

“Black Ocean”, the third track, highlights the elements of the melodic keyboard track to introduce a ripping-ly heavy song which showcases Wynn’s stunning vocal strength. I noticed several similarities between the guitar rhythms here and in the previous songs, however, what made up for the slightly repetitive quality was Schimmel’s tireless and entertaining drumming, which was allowed to take center stage. “Embers and Omens” was a huge switch from any of the songs I had listened to so far. It was basically an extended intro of classical acoustic guitar. I didn’t really see the point, frankly. Maybe it was to introduce the next song, “Longhammer,” which reminded me of the Folk/Viking Metal fusion of early 2000’s ENSIFERUM.

“Longhammer” is most definitely one of the album’s best songs. It has an epic melody which overarches the chugging bass and growling, warrior-like vocals to introduce an attention-grabbing juxtaposition of style. Wynn’s rapid-fire vocals in the chorus are thrilling, and the song honestly sounds like it could be a battle anthem. The drums are unforgiving and crash behind the clear electric riffs to create an absolutely awe-inspiring track. “Primal Revelation” started off with distant-sounding instrumentals, but soon grew into the thumping riffs typical with Death Metal backed with steady drums and bass. The track was solid musically by all means, however, it was a bit of a letdown after “Longhammer” and left me wanting more in the creativity department for the guitar riffs and the vocals; both of which sounded slightly reused.

“Faceless Eyes” began by showcasing the raw drumbeats, which was a welcome variety in UNDRASK’s typical song style. The chorus was unarguably catchy, and the guitars wove in and out of each other with ease and into a wailing solo reminiscent of Alexi Laiho. “Final Right” sounded like a true Melodic Death Metal song. It began with a very Baroque-sounding riff before cutting between distorted guitar riffs and meaty bass solos. This was another one of my personal favorites. It truly allows the listener to see the band’s potential for talent, and showcases the creativity that I wish was present in a few more of their songs. The guitars and bass were heavy and alternated between slow and fast riffs before exploding into another insane solo. The last song, “Battle Through Time”, is the album’s title track so I was expecting a blasting end to the album. I wasn’t disappointed. This one’s a head-banger for sure, and the bass-heavy riff added to the overall brutality of the song. It didn’t capture my attention like some of the other songs on this album, however, it’s no understatement when I say that UNDRASK are technical masters.

In general, I think this album is a successful journey into the difficult world of Melodic Death Metal, and demonstrates the talent of each and every band member. I was hoping to see a bit more variety; something that would make me remember each song, and some diversity especially in the guitar rhythms and vocals. However, these didn’t take away from the album’s many strengths, and for the band’s first full-length album, it’s amazingly well done.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. No Graves for the Dead
2. Conscripted
3. Champion of the Dawn
4. Black Ocean
5. Embers and Omens
6. Longhammer
7. Primal Revelation
8. Faceless Eyes
9. Final Right
10. Battle Through Time
Lineup:
Darryl Dewitt- Guitar
Erik Collier- Guitar
Steve Wynn- Vocals
Daniel McCoy- Bass
Aaron Schimmel- Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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