October 19, 2015

Review - Under the Church - Rabid Armageddon.

Under the Church - Rabid Armageddon 

Review by Trevor Proctor.

Formed in 2012 by ex-Nirvana 2002 members, Erik Qvick and Lars Henriksson, Under the Church has one sole purpose – to bring us raw and pure death metal in the old school vein.

After Nirvana 2002 was finally laid to rest in 2012 these two members were inspired to start writing music again and as with Nirvana 2002 Lars continued to perform bass and Erik drums although Lars also assumed guitar duty. It wasn’t long before they’d a number of songs composed and a search for a vocalist ensued. This search concluded when Mik Annetts joined the band and soon enough Under the Church had crafted their first three track demo which was independently released on cassette in 2013. “Demo 2013” featured three songs and soon generated a lot of interest in both the band and their raw and dirty style of Death Metal. They then released a seven track EP “Under the Church” in May 2014 through Singaporean label Pulverised Records – the self-titled EP featured the original three tracks from their demo along with four new tracks. As with the demo, this EP generated a lot of interest and praise, including a feature on Fenriz's "Band of the Week" blog site. The EP Subsequently got released on cassette by Tape Worship Records in June 2014, followed by a 10” vinyl release by Sweden’s Blood Harvest in February of this year along with a subsequent repress in April.

This demand and critical acclaim motivated the band to begin writing a debut album “Rabid Armageddon” which is now complete and due for release via Pulverised Records at the end of October. The artwork and layout for the album were created by renowned artist Mattias Frisk who has previously worked with bands such as Ghost, Vanhelgd and Vampire. Rabid Armageddon features nine tracks of pure Swedish Death Metal that will either appease or annoy fans of Nihilist and Entombed. From the first few seconds of opener “Sodomy and Blasphemy” it’s blatantly obvious that Under the Church worship at the altar of Entombed and old school Swedish Death Metal. There’s no escaping a grin as the familiar HM2-buzz saw guitar tone kicks in, throwing you into thirty seven minutes of authentic swe-death worship. There’s no need for a blow-by-blow account of this music, if you don’t know what Swedish Death Metal sounds like you should well and truly hang your head in shame. Buzz saw guitar, commanding vocals, hectic yet precise drumming combine with brief, effective guitar solos to create music that sounds like Entombed around the release of the Hollowman EP and Wolverine Blues. Most tracks throughout the album are quite strong with Rabid Armageddon and Walpurgis Night standing out as two of the stronger ones. The only track I didn’t get too excited about was track five, “Suspended in Gore” which, whilst listenable, didn’t capture my attention just as much as the other tracks – I feel the slower pace for a good part of the track just didn’t suit the band as much as the other down-tempo moments on the album.

Being 41 the likes of Entombed, Dismember et al played a massive part in the creation of the soundtrack to my teenage years and as a result I’m well aware of the respect Entombed and their peers command for their role in shaping death metal during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I hold their music with both respect and a degree of awe. However, I do feel it’s possible for modern bands to write music that serves as homage to these iconic and pioneering bands, provided the music is performed well enough and with respect – there’s nothing worse than bands blatantly ripping off others in a retro style manner. Thankfully Under the Church play and write music with both respect and passion and this is very obvious on listening to their music. With Entombed not even sounding like Entombed these days it falls to bands like Wombbath, Entrails and Under the Church to carry the banner for authentic old school Swedish Death Metal. Admittedly this type of music occasionally attracts negative attention from the purists though I feel as long as bands like Under the Church continue to release music like this there’ll always be a demand for it.

A solid debut album. 8 out of 10.

Track List: 

1. Sodomy And Blasphemy
2. Rabid Armageddon
3. Triad Ov Inquisitors
4. Magus
5. Suspended In Gore
6. Walpurgis Night
7. Mangled To A Bloody Mess
8. Penance
9. The Trail Of Cthulu.

Rabid Armageddon will be available on CD from October 30th from Pulverised Records, with a cassette version available to pre-order here from Hexed Cemetery Records.

You can listen to tracks from Under the Church, and others at Pulverised Records' Soundcloud page and you can also access Under the Church via Facebook here.

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