This third album, Døden Læger Alle Sår, from Danish death metal band Undergang, was one of those albums that I didn’t expect to like when I first heard it. But I was giving the album a cursory listen well before I decided to review it, and the immediacy of the album really struck me. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to hear anything through the jumble of low end, but it turns out that there are some great moments on this record—instantly accessible due to the semi-traditional version of death metal Undergang play.
In Stereogum‘s monthly metal column from May, Aaron Lariviere called Undergang “caveman metal,” and as I’ve been listening to Døden Læger Alle Sår, I can’t think of a better description. Undergang really do sound like a bunch of cavemen listened to say, Obituary and tried to recreate it themselves, just focusing on the best parts of death metal (solid riffs and good rhythm) and just playing with rocks instead of instruments.
A short aside: as I write about this album, it’s going to sound like I’m being negative when I call it “simple” or say “the vocals on this album sound like David Torturdød is just burping the whole time.” The amazing thing is that these parts of the album sound great together. Take the vocals, for example. They flounder in the mud with the rest of the instrumentation, and it sounds at times like the band has two bass players. Døden Læger Alle Sår really kicks off around the fourth track, “Ad Ligbitum,” where the ferocious beat of the drums acts as a counterpoint to Torturdød’s drawn-out guttural grunts.
Speaking of the drumming, that’s what really makes Døden Læger Alle Sår so successful, as it gives each of the tracks a different character. Take for example the the doom metal-inspired intro to “Lemlæstelsens Kunst” and the rolling drums that end the song, or the monstrous sound of the slow part near the end of”Radbrækket.”
Undergang is music for trolls in the dungeon. Døden Læger Alle Sår is for people who liked the chaotic noise of Impetuous Ritual or the updated feel of Emptiness’ Nothing But the Whole, yet want something a bit dumber. Again, that’s not an insult in the slightest. Undergang make a nasty, lowdown, grotesque clatter that’s just so enthralling you can’t look away.