UNDERGANG – Aldrig i livet (2020)REVIEW

Guts.” — Nonchalantly, matter-of-factly this dolt who’d been a feral terror upon 1960’s western Germany, this Ruhrkannibale, had the gall to tell the police it was eingeweide clogging up the waste-pipe shared between his apartment building. It’d mean a pretty tame life sentence in prison for the fellow, as a toddler’s hand simmered in a pot of water on his stove, his fridge packed with eh… other body parts of his fourteenth victim. Five people falsely accused of his murders were driven to suicide as the crimes went unsolved and they’d gone on so long because there were other cannibalistic serial killers active in the same area, at the same time. The thrill of grotesquery, wanton violence, and horrifying images of death splattered with human viscera is an inherently primitive action, much in the same way most societies view cannibalism as primitive rather than practical. Desensitization shared between morticians, cannibalistic serial killers, and death metal fans activates through the same chemical gateways of the mind and each long-developed numbness sees mental plasticity gains according to intensity. You’d have to be a maniacal sociopath or an wild-eyed zealot to put up with any of it and by reputation Copenhagen, Denmark’s death metal quartet Undergang are foulest thousand-eyed, skull-gnawing, strangling maniacs uh… at their sharpest point of teeth on this unmerciful, flesh-eating fifth album. ‘Aldrig i livet’ sticks to their strengths, steeped in a slurry of gore-slapping death metal from their own stock — All of the lumbering and bleeding sogginess of Scandinavian death metal circa ’89 scourged with England’s goriest deathgrind of the same era… Now with twenty percent more death/doom parts.

Undergang haven’t put out a bad record since forming as a trio in 2008, they’ve long been a band more obsessed with Autopsy, Impetigo and early Carcass than Incantation, at least compared to much of the death metal pros circa –the late 2000’s. ‘Indhentet Af Døden‘ (2010) does hit about as hard as ‘Onward to Golgotha’ at times but it wasn’t caverncore. Their second album, ‘Til Døden Os Skiller‘ (2012), began to express far deeper-resonant Finnish death metal influences alongside intermittent death/doom metal detours. So if you’re a fan already and appreciate this sound + undergang, the slowest parts of ‘Aldrig i livet’ resemble this ‘Retribution For the Dead’ sort of movement, the whole thing still reeks of a fist in each early Scandinavian death metal gutter. This’d be expected if you’d run into Undergang‘s third album (‘Døden Læger Alle Sår‘, 2015), a favorite of mine after discovering them via a split with Funebrarum (‘The Dead of Winter‘, 2015). It’d been the first album they’d work with Greg Wilkinson (Brainoil, Earhammer Studios) for the recording/mixing process, a finer nuanced render on each go since. ‘Misantropologi‘ (2017) was the big fuckin’ deal record from the band for my own taste and where I’d begin to hear more of their early goregrind influences via ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’ and ‘Symphonies of Sickness’, subtle influences there but notably featured on a few of the standout pieces of ‘Aldrig i livet’.

The groaning, slime birthed salvo of “Præfluidum” spits straight into a Dead Infection sized minute long deathgrinder, “Spontan bakteriel selvantændelse”, already setting a high-on-blood pace before… immediately sagging the frontal lobe into mud as “Indtorret” raises the first hand of (death) doom. “Menneskeæder” is probably one of the most memorable death metal songs from 2020 for my own taste and by no coincidence is it the song that recalls the best moments of ‘Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious’. That isn’t to say that ‘Aldrig i livet’ sits in one place for long but that puke and grooves are Undergang‘s business and they’ve focused their efforts on bombastic, aggressive pieces that take full advantage of the spacious resonance of the production. “Sygelige nydelser (Del 3) Emetofili” is the sign of a now established blast/grind/doom cycle returning for another round via its brutal grind followed by another notable highlight, the title track, which cracks deeper into the Finnish death/doom side of the band via a couple of huge riffs. I could go on praising every part of ‘Aldrig i livet’, especially the ‘Covenant’-sludged crust punk swerves on my favorite track “Rodt dodt kod”, but you get that the full listen is a ride, an experience fed by prominently featured and largely memorable pieces. They don’t pull into the deepest cuts fast enough for my taste but at the same time I’d say those first four songs could reasonably “make” the album for a lot of classic death metal fans.

Undergang have never put out a bad record, each has been an improvement upon the last. ‘Aldrig i livet’ bleeds a bit more chaotic doom than usual, balancing their brutal highs with doomed lurches that adorn the Danes’ mid-paced basement hurl fests. It doesn’t necessarily grab the ear right away unless you are apt and know what this band is all about; At the very least “Menneskeæder” will be broadly readable, enough that the right folks will already have their pre-order in hand. Reverence for the classics, a well-developed signature sound and a damned professional rendering… all of this sounds a bit too clean for these guys on paper but the experience sticks by virtue of the gloom and doom amplified within Undergang‘s oeuvre. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (90/100)

Rating: 9 out of 10.
TITLE:Aldrig i livet
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records,
Me Saco Un Ojo,
Extremely Rotten Productions
RELEASE DATE:December 4th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Death Metal

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