Bandcamp of the Day: Underdark

Underdark are a U.K. band that more or less represent the next wave of blackgaze. Some people got their undies in a sailor’s knot over Sunbather, believing it to be a debasement of the black metal genre (seemingly forgotten about the existence of Ulver).

While others erroneously championed it as the tip of the spear of a new progressive wave of black metal. Neither ended up being true. That’s kind of what makes Underdark so interesting. They definitely are playing in a style that is more recognizable because of Deafheaven’s success, but which doesn’t necessarily flow directly from that band’s playbook. Underdark are their own band, playing their own brand of black metal, with many of their influences predating the wave of post-black metal circa 2013. 

The most immediate influence I can hear on Underdark’s sound when listening to their debut LP Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re​-​Entry is Wolves in the Throne Room, with their embrace of mist heavy atmosphere and earth tone arpeggios, which just sound like their guitar strings are fashioned out of some kind of soft lichen, producing distortion that flows out of amps that grow their own bark.

There is quite a lot of post-hardcore influence in the guitar work on this album as well, with more than a few of its shifting, chaotic grooves sounding like they are permanently stained with the ink of a ballpoint pen that had been nearly bled dry on the pages of a composition notebook. 

Most black metal is self consciously obsessed with death—either longing for its embrace or willing it to visit others with its cold company. Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re​-​Entry on the other band feels preoccupied with the struggle for life. These themes come into focus during the confessional, spoken word intros and interludes, from the first track “Queres,” to later entries like “With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats.”

These segments communicate a certain level of intimacy and openness to the listener. But they are not the only way that Underdark opens up to you. It is possible to feel their vulnerability in the resistance and the uplift of the guitars on tracks like “Skeleton Queen” and the title-track. Both of which sound like conscious an attempt to bring down the walls of confinement that keep people apart, whether they come in the form of addiction, persistent mental health issues, or even the barriers that governments erect to keep people apart. 

Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re​-​Entry is a black metal album that burns with an inner brightness that is only made more piercing because of the darkness that surrounds it. 

You can buy or stream Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re​-​Entry below:

Get a copy of Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re​-​Entry on vinyl and cassette from Tridroid Records here.

Check out all of our past Bandcamp picks here!

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