Undeath – Sentient Autolysis (2019) REVIEW

Thousands of precise and ultra-fine black lines converge in slowly blurred sight as shades of greyscale death squirm as larvae amidst an explosive render of dimensional invasion with malevolent intention towards the herdable, expendable presence of  foulest mankind. The green pile of rotten mush and skulls beneath the Undeath name indicates both the darkly bellowed horror they gouge and the finely detailed craft they behold to our unworthy earthen ears in the form of a second demo within six months of their first. Can death metal be a technical marvel and a primitive monstrosity layered with the grime of a thousand years worth of disinterred bodies under its fingernails at once while maintaining some sense of musical value? No question it has been done before briefly but, these are wild ideas only ever put to tape in rehearsal or demonstration in ancient Scandinavian times or whatever random burst of North American carnage might escape from the vaults of the late 80’s and early 90’s. ‘Sentient Autolysis’ is not a simple popping of those old coffin lids but rather a second blast from a laser-sighted dimensional being aiming to suffocate any vermin that’d survived the first attack.

Modulation has occurred, trading a few centimeters of complexity for impact and groove. You’ll feel the need to bruise and decimate the ear from the moment Undeath begin their ‘Here in After’-esque assault on “Enhancing the Dead” which quickly dives into ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’-era morbidity before collapsing into what could only be described as a classic NYDM breakdown towards the endpoint. Each of the four tracks here follow this modus of grotesquely primitive tonality with intense technical riffs as centerpiece but all things express into different pathways. In this sense ‘Sentient Autolysis’ is a contained release entirely relevant to Undeath‘s first record but taken piece-by-piece it is a strong step forward for the band’s sound as they render more complex atmospherics alongside a deeper sense of brutality and riff-focused mindset.

“Phantasmal Festering” begins with a Tomb Mold-esque rush and a memorable guitar hook to anchor the intro of the piece; From that point these guys  do not stand still in one place for long as the song builds up toward a finale that should recall early Kataklysm or Anata. There and “Pursued Then Consumed” I see the gears turning in the high-functioning brains that guide Undeath towards the ruin of infamy as they skirt the riff-salad of old school technical death metal a la Demilich and give it forward motion by way of modern ‘new old school’ ethos. There is the sense that they are cherry-picking from a high taste level for the sake of maintaining feeling with reference but, none of this is so intentionally referential. When the music stops I stop and consider what I remember most as a death metal fan and what ends up being the grip upon my skull is the guitar techniques that guide me back through generations of Canadian, North American and Finnish death metal’s high impact acts. In other words, this is entirely my jam, to the point that it is disgusting… but I kept listening because of trip from Point A to Point B as Undeath strings together a more aggressive grip of songs.

Back in March I’d remarked: “No question they [Undeath] will succeed with this level of guitar arrangement and doomed pacing moving forward.” before I called for more variety in pacing, mind you. This demo resolves that issue with a wild variety of drum patterns from Slayer-esque stomps to Xysma-tic blasts and brutal rushes of melodeath chaos that all fit in with their extra-dimensional NY-meets-Ontario vision of death metal attack. I don’t know if they’ve found their own groove that they can fully ‘feel themselves’ within yet but so far the ride is immense. There is no need to prattle on too much more especially if you’re an idiot like me who is sold on this sound and riff-craft from the first 20-30 seconds of the spin, ‘Sentient Autolysis’ comes very highly recommended along with their demo tape from back in March of this year. For preview purposes you’ve gotta hear when “Pursued Then Consumed” hits about 45 seconds in and really soak up the buildup towards that outro on “Phantasmal Festering”.

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Artist Undeath
Type Demo
Released July 29, 2019
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Genre Death Metal

Katabasis unto apoptosis. 4.25/5.0

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