Undeath – It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave Review

I want to make one thing immediately clear: It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave fucking rocks. For several spins, however, it left me severely confused. I realized that Undeath was certain to evolve. While a retread of Lesions of a Different Kind would have been completely enjoyable, the band’s knack for effortlessly folding together countless influences of classic death metal, while also crafting an unmistakably distinct sound, meant that a retread would be disappointing by default. Indeed, Undeath’s slick, slimy grime continues to coat every riff and permeate the band’s compositional bedrock, and yet modest streamlining has resulted in a markedly different feel. As a result, It’s Time… dilutes some of what made Undeath’s debut so effective and distinct. It is also – bewilderingly – the superior record. The process of figuring out why that is has made me appreciate Undeath, and even the concept of death metal, even more.

Death metal is inherently fun, but against It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave, many of Undeath‘s modern contemporaries feel downright stone faced. As with their debut, this record’s riffs are nuanced and unpredictably twisty, and what is sacrificed somewhat in grooves is made up for through sheer excess. It’s Time… feels more grandiose than most bands labeling themselves as “epic” metal, thanks in no small part to the band’s bolstered songwriting chops. I remarked in my review of Lesions of a Different Kind that I would love to hear more novel songwriting turns like in “Acidic Twilight Visions,” and while no one track here is quite so dizzyingly brilliant, the compositions are universally more dynamic and intelligent in the way they introduce and repurpose ideas. Aside from the merely good “Enhancing the Dead,” there isn’t a song on this record that I do not love.

My preference for It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave against its predecessor was so initially confusing because it feels notably less considered in its execution. Lesions was groovier and methodical, granting breathing room for its nuances to flourish. It’s Time…, by comparison, is utterly reckless. Still captivatingly melodic and groovy when it needs to be (see: “Necrobionics”), but otherwise the album operates with a gleeful, runaway train abandon that is inherently less distinct. Realizing that this is the entire point is what finally brought the record’s appeal into focus: it captures the undiluted essence of death metal more effectively than any record I’ve heard in years. Surprises abound on It’s Time… in ways I never expected, because it isn’t afraid to unearth sounds from the most unexpected of corners. “Human Chandelier” is a perfect example of this philosophy, kicking off with a sternum smashing bout of borderline hardcore riffage, before pivoting to Gothenberg melodeath in its verse and motherfucking gothic metal in the chorus. From melodic to brutal to even tech death, if you favor a specific style of death metal, Undeath likely aces it at some point on this record.

It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave’s production also feels looser than that of Undeath’s debut, but unlike with the songwriting, the relaxed engineering philosophy is not a net win. The drums are more impactful, with deep, booming skins, but the heightened vocal emphasis makes Alexander Jones’ wonderful death rattle feel a touch less unsettling. The record is loud as fuck in general, which is a disappointing departure from the refreshingly old school dynamism presented on Lesions of a Different Kind. That said, there are several little production touches that grant It’s Time… more character, such as the thunder clap during the instrumental break of the title track, which never fails to leave me grinning. This isn’t a bad sounding record by any means, but at only two LPs in, it is automatically Undeath’s worst sounding record.

I could easily – and in fact, almost feel compelled to – write a full essay on the successes of It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave. The way that it triumphs in spite of the sacrifices Undeath made in order to make this more streamlined iteration of themselves work is just that fascinating. Yet the record’s surface appeal is not nearly so elusive. Some will undoubtedly prefer the more methodical formula of Lesions of a Different Kind, but fans of delightfully ignorant death metal are going to have a helluva time with this thing. As a celebration of death metal – and as a celebration of its own gloriously unfettered existence – It’s Time… to Rise from the Grave is in a class all its own.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records Official | Bandcamp
Websites: undeath.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/fundeath | twitter.com/undeathNY
Releases Worldwide: April 22nd, 2022

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