Undersave are no strangers to tribulation. Forming in 2002, it is only now that the band’s fresh blend of death metal has been captured in the context of a full-length release. Shrugging their shoulders at both the brutal/slam death metal movement and the regression to the old school, Undersave capture the true spirit of genres boundless possibilities, reminding us that classic death metal releases are anything but a dying breed.
Whilst calling the band innovative would perhaps be a bit of a stretch, that isn’t what the band is trying to achieve. Instead, the duo (now a three-piece) have crafted a unique sound by blending their varied death metal influences into one being. The band is heavily removed from a wall-of-sound approach, preferring to explore other ways to devise atmosphere. From the haunting intro snippet to the trudging riffs, the album oozes subversion over domination. That isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have its fair share of blasting, tremolo-picking moments, but they are just some of the elements amongst the tasteful dollops of grooves and interesting riffs that fill the album, as opposed to the primary factors. The boundaries of death metal have never been set in stone, and Undersave flirt with this notion without diving right in.
Lacking a second guitarist or bass player, vocalist Nuno Braz handles all stringed duties. Whilst he dominates on guitar, the pockets in which the bass is clearly audible also show off some interesting work, especially on Digging And Blocking The Exit To The Unwanted Freedom. However, the mix doesn’t accommodate for much low end overall, and as a result the album can feel thin at times. This is an unfortunate blow to an otherwise pretty impressive production job, with the savagery of the guitars and a punchy drum sound creating a morbid, brooding atmosphere.
Braz’s vocals remain an interesting part of the album. Abrasive and upfront in the mix, his voice – aside from a few more articulate shouts thrown in – have more in common with Frank Mullen than anyone else, and give the album a slight brutal death metal feeling, contrasting with the music. At first, the roaring vocals over the top of this style of death metal might seem a bit peculiar, but as the album draws on, it all starts to make sense.
The album rarely drags, with only a few moments on Assuming a Position…a way to Criticize one’s own Hypocrisy feeling a bit drawn out, whilst opener Now…Submit Your Flesh To The Master’s Imagination’s eight-minute length feeling entirely warranted. The album does contain a few shorter tracks, but for the most part, Undersave have chosen to take the risk, offering primarily long compositions with repeating structures.
It is not always the most innovative albums that are the most fun to listen to. Sometimes, all that is necessary for an album to become memorable is the revisiting of ideas and having a new take on it. This album certainly won’t redefine anyone’s view on death metal, nor is it going to tick all the boxes on an old school purist’s list. Instead, Now…Submit Your Flesh To The Master’s Imagination sits firmly within the established scope of death metal, whilst offering an interesting blend of some of the genre’s trademarks. This album doesn’t push the limits of melody or brutality – but it is certainly memorable.