Under the Church - Supernatural Punishment 01If you go to Belgium, the locals will talk of two sorts of beer: “pils,” the standard stuff (i.e. Stella, Jupiler, Palm, etc.), and “bier,” which is the good stuff (i.e. Cornet, Westmalle Tripel, Tripelkarmeleit, etc.). “Pils” is great for indulging rather heavily; it’s not too alcoholic, so you can just have it as background for hours and feel great. On the other hand, “bier” is to be savored, enjoyed with great company and conversation, and not quaffed whatsoever but cherished, with every note of the flavor just being so right. One beer is fun, but tastes rather mass produced; it has its purpose, but certainly isn’t an extremely memorable thing (excepting the incredible cult following of CaraPils, the best-worst Belgian beer to ever exist). The other is worth the time, money, and attention; in other words, it’s simply worth savoring. Under the Church is a Swe-death band that’s essentially “pils” beer in musical form and Supernatural Punishment definitely goes down easy.

The strain of Swe-death Under the Church traffics in is of the comfortable garden variety, merging Clandestine with Wolverine Blues, following that archetype of the record which may have come between the two so common in Swe-death’s oeuvre. There’s some post-Stream Dismember going on here too, but the method of attack remains largely the same: lots of death, lots of grooves, and plenty of riffs. There’s also an underlying thrash influence here that’s impossible to miss, notably the aping of some Slayer motifs.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with Under the Church’s latest if you don’t feel like being too discerning. Each song here is taut and coherent, not a single one exceeding four minutes. If one song isn’t doing it for you, the next one is right around the corner; nothing here requires much of a commitment. For my money, the best moments on the record are the opening one-two punch of “The Stygian Horror” and the title track. “The Stygian Horror” has a lot of energy, seamlessly merging earlier Entombed with later Dismember in sound but not legendary quality; nonetheless, it’s fun. “Supernatural Punishment” goes down the same road but in a different way, sounding groovier and more like Wolverine-onward Entombed merged with the less melodic parts of Massive Killing Capacity with a bit of Slayer thrown into the midsection, which works very well for the band.

Under the Church - Supernatural Punishment 02

While Supernatural Punishment is doubtlessly fun, it hamstrings itself by blatantly trying to just be fun. Nothing here is great because it seems that it doesn’t have to be; competent Swe-death certainly has a market, and Under the Church are absolutely competent. There’s no bad song present here, but everything just blends together in a blur of death metal decency. There’s nothing but riffs here, organized neatly into largely similar tracks that follow largely similar structures. There aren’t any riffs that stick with you after the record ends, just ones that sound good while it’s playing. There’s nothing here to make me want to come back to Under the Church, but there isn’t anything that would cause me to avoid them, or even avoid checking out any and all future material.

Much like “pils” beer, you won’t turn to Under the Church when you want something to be cherished and enjoyed intently. No, Under the Church is perfect for when you just want something fast, loud, and easily digested. I can’t name specific flaws in any song here because there aren’t any per se; rather, each one is by and large so competent that it outright hamstrings itself from being great. It’s like Supernatural Punishment simply cannot be bothered to do anything but be decent and accessible Swe-death that will be something a lot of people enjoy, but nobody actually loves. This can be analogous to someone with no actual opinions on anything, or someone with commitment issues in romantic relationships; the most outstanding quality is mere agreeability. The surface level is the focus, and instead of risking anything to do something other than a sure-fire decent record, the only thing produced here is a decent record. The production reminds me of Massive Killing Capacity, which exacerbates the fact that Supernatural Punishment so greatly pales in comparison. In short: nothing ventured, fairly decent record gained.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Pulverized Records
Websites: facebook.com/underthechurch
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2017

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  • Love the breakdown of beers. Well done on the use to describe the record.

    • maartje

      The analogy works in both directions. Nowadays I very rarely drink Pils, mostly when nothing else available (on festivals for example). The same goes for my music consumption.

      ps. Belgians are very picky about their beers : it should be “tripel Karmeliet”

  • Come on now, that album title font is WEAK! What is that, the one that MS Paint defaults to?

    • mastema

      it is the same font used in countless 90s Swedish death and black metal releases.

      • Ha, right you are, I’m guilty of not paying too much attention to album art when it’s just on my iPod. Objection withdrawn!

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Do not mistake popularity of font for lack of weakness.

          • The Unicorn

            Holy shit, hamsters like metal? Color this Unicorn pink!

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Yep we do.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            There are Heavy Metal Hamsters. And Pink Bubbles go Ape. Who would have thought?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It’s the font that MS Paint defaults to when you write “Entombed worship”

  • Bas

    Perfect comparison :-)
    This is decent, but not top pils.

    What is the metal equivalent of Geuze ?
    .. or more controversial the equivalent of a good acidic Kriek ;-)

    • Peter Rabbit

      If good geuze and kriek are music, they should be something weird, complex, but not too strong. Krautrock, maybe?

      • Bas

        Nice call. To make it more metal what about queens of stone age for kriek (with the cherry fruit being the pop aspects and the lambic basis the krautrock). Geuze is more difficult.. Just stoner maybe..

        • Peter Rabbit

          Yeah, QOTSA for kriek sounds about right. About geuze… stoner tends to use heavy sounds, so I can’t help but seeing as a more malty brew, maybe some kind of bock. Gueuze is weird, but also sweet, because of the sugar…

  • Unwanted Guest

    Whenever I find a new Swe-death worship band, I can’t help wondering where they have hidden in in late 90’s and 00’s and why some listeners buy those degraded copycats instead of great reissues of Carnage, God Macabre, Grave, and Gorement.

    • mastema

      Under The Church was Nirvana 2002 in the late 80s and early 90s, pleb.

      • Unwanted Guest

        Thank you for the correction. I’m ashamed to have dismissed them as a newbie… I leave this comment to punish myself.

    • mastema

      you dont even know about the genre for all your sanctimony.

      • Unwanted Guest

        Yeah, you are right. I’m sorry. I was wrong.

  • Frost15

    I love the cover art. wish the music was as good… It does not seem like a bad album though, just average.

  • herrschobel

    Beer analogies instead of Philosophy ? is the world coming to and end ? and what about us wine drinkers ? the music is forgettable and the lyrics as cliche as you can get … i stick to Entombed for now

    • Eli Valcik

      I don’t understand philosophy, I understand beer.

      • herrschobel

        try Beer AND philosophy ! At the same time of course

    • Bas

      Then this is a cheap new world Merlot.
      Grindcore = Jura vin nature
      Manowar = top Australian Shiraz
      Stoner = Mosel riesling
      Doom metal = classic bordeaux
      Thrash = beaujolais
      Etc

      • herrschobel

        i am all for heavy Bordeaux and Languedoc

    • sir_c

      wine, ain’t that for proggers?

  • GardensTale

    My preferred Belgian beer is Satan.

    But I also like Duvel (“devil”) or Judas.

    Yes, all of those are real and real tasty.

    • Bas

      I love the slogan on the outside of the brewery (as seen from the highway ca. 15 years ago): ssst the devil is resting here ! :-)

      • maartje

        It’s still there :-)

    • Tim

      Get thee some Allagash. It’s brewed in Maine, so it’s all over the Eastern US, not sure about elsewhere. Great stuff though.

      • GardensTale

        Hmm might be hard to find an ocean away, but I’ll be on the lookout for it.

    • Dudeguy Jones

      I like Straffe Hendrik (Strong Henry) from Half Moon in Bruges.
      Otherwise Westmalle Triple.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    I like Stella dammit.

  • Iain Gleasure

    Belgian Beer is expensive as hell and not any better than German.
    Especially Duvel. $3.40 for 330ml. Screw them.

    • I’m not sure if you’re joking, but – if not – please recommend me some German beers that match the quality of Gulden Draak, or any Delirium, Lindemans, or even Chimay…

      • The Unicorn

        Pink Elephant ftw.

      • Iain Gleasure

        Weihenstephaner, Schneider Weisse, Ayinger, Schlenkerla, and a deliberately incendiary comment in the first place. ;-)
        Drink well Friend.

        • I think I’ve tried only Weihenstephaner, but so long ago, I don’t remember it at all. Thanks for recommendations guys, let the hunt begin.

        • mastema

          weihenstephaner hefe and schneider hefe are my fav beers! hell yes. they are way too easy to drink though, i end up drinking a 6 pack in 30 minutes and i only drink maybe twice a year. thats how damn good they are.

      • SoLeftISeeRight

        Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock, any Weihenstephaner (the Dunkel being my fave), Aecht Schlenkerla smoked beers, Ayinger Dopplebock, and Freigeist make some very good beers…including one that uses Orval yeast and lambic blended that should appeal to any Belgian beer fan.

  • Wilhelm

    I have fond memories of Rodenbach, I think I’ll work some OT so I can pick up a bottle.

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    I’m all about the Westvleteren 12 and Cantillon from Belgium. Nobody compares when it comes to making open-fermented beers. Germany, Austria and Czech Republic do much better Pilsners though.

  • I didn’t knew that, but I LOVE how in Dutch the word “pils” is opposed to the actual “bier”.

  • Now give me the musical equivalent of Mikkeler’s “1000 IBU”.

    • SoLeftISeeRight

      Curse Of The Golden Vampire

      • Whoa, spot-on comparison.
        It turns out that my music taste isn’t so well-developed, and I have to try this harsh bitterness in really small doses.

        • SoLeftISeeRight

          I like to keep double ipa’s in my fridge so nobody steals my beers, and a copy of that album in case i need to clear the house.

  • This seems perfectly average and uninspired, according to the gospel of the embedded track.

  • Tofu muncher

    Beautiful cover, no? Like Swamp Thing, who I love.

  • lennymccall

    I dig these guys quite a bit. Probably give it more of a 2.5 or 3 even.

  • sjforr

    This album is awesome! Love the guitar tone, love the tempo, love the vocals, love the aggression. This is just great, balls-to-the-wall headbanging metal. WTF is wrong with that? I love this site but sometimes it spends too much time up its own arse.

  • Tofu muncher

    I love me this album here. Everything sounds great to mine ears. Them ‘short’ songs are jolt after jolt of bliss in an otherwise fluctuated market of BM/DM albums with songs running no less than 6 minutes.