Undead False Prophecies 01Undead are the next logical step in “unknown” bands. We have Portal playing solid dissonant death metal while one guy wears a clock on his head, but all of the members have pseudonyms of their own and we knew they hail from Australia. Then we have Ghost adding gimmicky interest to their saccharine sing-song Satanism by coming from the land of ABBA and referring to every band member but vocalist Papa Emeritus I or II as a “nameless ghoul.” Undead throw us a small curveball by not referring to any member as anything, not revealing their location, and generally keeping tight-lipped about everything online. Why? Three options: 1) Undead really want a gimmick; 2) Undead are a supergroup or at minimum have some well-known members but don’t want to be viewed in light of said members’ other projects; 3) Undead made a somewhat misguided but nonetheless valiant attempt to let their music do the talking.

Assuming 3) is correct, talk False Prophecies does. It speaks loudly about death metal circa 1988-1993, drawing primarily from Death, Morgoth, Massacre, Morta Skuld, Obituary, Pestilence, and Asphyx. Yes, you’ve absolutely heard stuff like this before. If you haven’t, I’d like the number of the guy who did the soundproofing for the rock you clearly live under so I can listen to this kind of thing loudly without my neighbors complaining and reminding me that I’m allegedly “violating noise bylaws.” First: this is death metal, not “noise,” you uncultured bastards. Second: complaints, really? From where I sit (in front of my speakers), Undead isn’t giving me a whole lot to complain about.

Within the first twenty seconds of False Prophecies, Undead lets you know in the least subtle way that they aren’t fucking around. “Unborn” brings the quality riffs straight outta Leprosy and Cursed topped with vocals that sound more than a little like Marc Grewe (hmm…) that ought to at least get the invisible pineapples squeezed. The vast majority of “Unbound to Eternity” sees Undead doing Massacre better than Massacre themselves did on Back From Beyond with some little nods to Hell Awaits thrown in for good measure. On the other side of the Atlantic, “Praise the Absurd” spends much of its runtime successfully embracing the style of early Asphyx due to its heavy yet hook-laden slow burn, and I don’t need to tell you that’s a good thing. Honestly, I could name highlights until I’m blue in the face but that seems excessive. Instead, I’ll simply say that Undead’s music has a palpable energy that goes hand-in-hand with their riffs-over-all songwriting approach, making the few weaker sections on display feel more like little speedbumps instead of deep and noticeable valleys.

Said speedbumps are minor, but they’re definitely present. “Castrate Humanity” is good, but I can’t shake the feeling Undead could’ve done a bit more with the time they allotted it. It never gets boring, but it veers a bit too close to “tolerable” for comfort. The title track possesses a similar issue, but in both cases the riffs are strong enough to prevent the song from dragging. Lead guitars are another boon for the entire record, coming across flashy and impressive without sounding gratuitous. While they’re often played over simple riffs, they bear a much greater similarity to James Murphy playing in Obituary than Ralph Santolla playing in Obituary, which translates to Undead employing some tastefully demented yet impressively fluid lead work.

Undead False Prophecies 02

The production job on False Prophecies isn’t going to win Undead any Dynamic Range Day awards, but I can’t be bothered to care because it showcases the music perfectly and simply sounds good. Guitars have an authoritative and burly tone that suits the riffs to a tee, vocals are up front and raw with the occasional bit of reverb applied for effect, drums are hefty with the snappy Leprosy brand of snare, and the bass carves out a nice space in the mix, reminding me of Terry Butler in both tone and performance (hmm…).

If it wasn’t clear by all the name-dropping in this review, Undead aren’t doing anything remotely innovative here. I can’t consider this to be a major flaw though, as False Prophecies seems to have a single-minded focus to make fans of undiluted early death metal remember the simpler times, don a knowing smile, and headbang ‘til their necks hurt. Having spun this and done just that plenty of times, I can confidently say that they succeeded.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: UndeadOfficial | Facebook.com/Undead
Release Dates: EU: 2015.05.18 | NA: 05.12.2015

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  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Shame about that album cover and logo though.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Yeah, the clearly dead guy hanging around in the Undead logo really does put a damper on thematic unity. The backwards D is just tacky.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Who is it, darling?
    It’s one of the little men from the village, a Mr Death or something… he’s come about the reaping… I don’t think we need any at the moment.

    • 517H

      Shut up you American, you always talk you Americans… and you say “Let me tell ya something” well you’re dead now so shut up!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Hey I didn’t even eat the mousse.

  • Martin Knap

    I have a feeling that ABBA gets namedropped here now and then, but you never tag them… :-/

  • cxj

    The second best unknown band to release a record this year, trailing Dead In The Manger.

  • 517H

    Let the speculation begin!

    Vox – Marc Grewe is a good call, dude (Grewe is a goddam legend). And I read elsewhere it could be Patrick Mameli. Sounds a bit like him

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Mameli is a good guess, plus he has a reason to be unknown because of how much of a departure this is from modern Pestilence. I really want to believe there’s someone who was involved in SFU on here (the first song is called “Unborn” which is pretty coincidental given their previous two records). The initial promo run said “for fans of Death, Obituary, Massacre, etc.” which is the DTA tour, so there may be someone involved with that on here too. Not gonna lie, it’s fun to speculate!

      • 517H

        Dam straight – it’s fun to speculate! Got it on bandcamp. Between this and Gruesome I’m having a great trip down old school nostalgia lane. Unsurprisingly the mp3s files from bandcamp contain no composer/artist details. For argument’s sake, if it is Mameli on vox, is he playing guitar too? I would say probably yes. I like your SFU and DTA angles. Dudes like Terry Butler or Reinert come to mind

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          My big reservation on the Mameli idea is there being five people in the band, so it seems unlikely that anyone would double up. Then again, Comecon faked having a drummer and put one of their friends in the promo pictures/credits…and to keep unknown, such red herrings would be smart. Damn…we all could know even less than we think!

  • Alexandre Barata

    I believe that the reason a band goes incognito is a mix of the 3 above. If I was a skilled musician and on a band, I would want the music to be known but personally I would want to be unknown. Not only the secrecy is somewhat cool, but, as an anti-social, not having fans stopping on my everyday-life for autographs or chat or whatever would be pleasant.

    Anyways, I love the embedded song, groovy enough and with a cool riff. Gotta check the full album.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      But people would be trying to find you more than if they knew your name, so make sure to stay well-hidden!

      It’s worth checking out in full if you like the embed. Very fun and well-written death metal.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Yeah, fans are a crotch :P

        Will do good sir, will do!

    • JL

      ya but surely death metal musicians aren’t stopped for autographs on a daily basis. i just like the anonymous fact because it shows the bands don’t care about money and if that’s true, then the music comes from the heart.