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Black & White
Released: 2010, Self Produced
File this one under the burgeoning French metal scene that quite possibly might surpass the country’s metal output of the previous six decades in the last two years. This is no idle statement, as this is the fourth French album I have reviewed in the last 3 months and many of my reviewer buds have been knee deep in French albums as well. Much like the other French albums I have heard recently, BLACK & WHITE is the debut EP for the band Underflesh, formed in the Paris area. The trio has recently hit the French touring circuit in support of their four track debut.
The band references Gojira and Hacrid as influences, and while this is noticeable on many tracks, Underflesh does not display the flash or sophistication of Gojira. Nevertheless, BLACK & WHITE is an impressive debut blending progressive death metal with elements of hardcore and occasional doom metal tempos. Underflesh are content to groove and chug, usually at a mid-pace tempo while creating a wall of guitar sound. The bass and drums each contribute to the soundscapes while guitarist/vocalist Steph growls and grunts in a death metal style. Opening track “Unnatural Dreams” could be the best on the album, and stylistically the most varied as there are numerous changes and even upper register guitar chords instead of just a low drone. Album closer, “Thief In Authority” is the other standout track, featuring an atmosphere of doom combined with much more aggressive riffing and tremolo picking from the band, as well as one of the few guitar solos on the album.
Overall BLACK & WHITE is a respectable release, with a heavy sound and outstanding production qualities. The plodding nature of the songs offers almost no variety in tempo and since this is not doom metal, picking up the pace would have been a nice flourish. I fount myself wanting to hear a blast beat or a mach speed fill for a change speed. Essentially, this is no frills death metal, completely devoid of technical flash and complicated passages, but adventuresome enough to be progressive. Obviously, you will not hear a reinvention of death metal here, but Underflesh executes their brand of death metal with competence and a simplicity that draws inspiration from the glory days of Obituary. This one is recommended for fans of Gojira, Obituary, and mid-paced metal in general.
1. Unnatural Dreams
4. Thief in Authority
Flo - Guitar
Pierre - Bass
Steph - Guitar/Vocals
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