I’ve been closely following the murderous machinations of Under the Church since they released their first demo in 2013 (reviewed here), at first because the band included two members of the legendary Swedish death metal band Nirvana 2002 (drummer/guitarist Erik Qvick and bassist Lars Henriksson) and then because the music turned out to be so consistently good.
Since that immediately attention-grabbing demo, the band have stayed busy, releasing a self-titled EP in 2014, an insanely good debut album in 2015 (Rabid Armageddon), a two-track single in 2016, and both a live album and a split with Revel In Flesh earlier this year. And now we’re on the brink of receiving a second album.
Entitled Supernatural Punishment, it will be released by Pulverised Records on November 10. We’ve had the fiendish pleasure of premiering other Under the Church tracks over the years, and now we’re fortunate to again help spread the word about another one — the name of which is “Wretched Disfigurement” — presented through a lyric video that makes good use of the album’s frightful cover art.
Erik Qvick (drums) and Lars Henriksson (bass) have remained the mainstays of Under the Church all along, but for this new album they are allied with a revised line-up that includes not only guitarists Erik Wahlin (from the recently resurrected Merciless) and Marcus Klack (ex-Morbid) but also vocalist Erik Sahlström (General Surgery, Crucifyre). All that combined talent and experience shows very well in this new music — which is highly infectious, in both meanings of that word.
On the one hand, it is unmistakably pestilential and gruesome, even without considering the horror-show lyrics. After a thoroughly morbid start that brings to mind the lumbering gait of a rotting, reanimated corpse, the rhythm shifts into a bounding gallop and the guitars begin to seethe and swarm in a feeding frenzy. You don’t get that gut-churning, chainsawing HM-2 tone up-front here — it’s a different kind of distorted sound that seems closer to a whirlpool vortex made of knives, or a plague fever burning out of control. And that ghastly display is capped by a fret-melter of a solo that spirals upward like a fire demon loosed from its sorcerous chains.
Perhaps needless to say, Erik Sahlström’s vocals are shudderingly vicious and maniacal, thoroughly cruel and ruthless, and remarkably vibrant in their display of ravenous intent. And speaking of ravenous, the lyrics tell a tale of grotesque, sewer-dwelling mutant freaks hungering for human flesh — “DEFORMED DERANGED HORRID”. Indeed.
And of course, “infectious” has another meaning, one that equally applies to “Wretched Disfigurement”. You really will have a damned hard time getting this ghoulish romp out of your head, though that assumes you would want to, and why would you? It’s as delicious as a heaping bowl of squirming maggots and frenzied centipedes, served hot by an undead horde eager to dine on you as you gulp their own grisly servings.
If you want old school death metal done right, look no further than Under the Church.
Supernatural Punishment was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Studio Paradis, Studio Qlaque, and Studio Strömsaahl, and it features eye-catching cover art and layout by the well-known Swedish illustrator Mattias Frisk (Ghost, Vanhelgd, Trap Them, Night, etc).
Under the Church on Facebook:
1. The Stygian Horror (3:54)
2. Supernatural Punishment (2:59)
3. Ancient Ritual (3:27)
4. Staircase To Hell (3:00)
5. Vitalizing Funeral (3:19)
6. The Death Of Innocence (3:10)
7. Crypt Of Pelvises (2:59)
8. Wretched Disfigurement (3:58)
9. Silence Of The Shadows (3:18)