Album Review – Undrask / Battle Through Time (2017)

The story of a man lost to eternity, forced to fight and die repeatedly throughout time and alternate realities, told by an amazing Melodic Death Metal act from the United States.

Rating4

coverFormed in 2013 in Greensboro, the third-largest city by population in North Carolina, inspired by metal of all flavors and with the goal of creating equal parts tasty and heavy Melodic Death Metal, American band Undrask returns with more of their gripping music after their critically acclaimed self-titled EP released in August 2015, this time offering a concept album that tells the story of a man lost to eternity, forced to fight and die repeatedly throughout time and alternate realities. The album, titled Battle Through Time, is not only their debut full-length release, but also an excellent option for fans of modern Melodic Metal the likes of Amon Amarth, Carcass and early In Flames.

If there’s one thing about Heavy Metal concept albums I truly enjoy is the fact that it doesn’t matter how epic or futuristic the story might be, heavy music always illustrates all characters, their struggles and all ongoing events to perfection, exhaling intensity and passion. Featuring a classy and modern artwork by Finnish artist and musician Jan “Örkki” Yrlund (Darkgrove), Battle Through Time is comprised of 10 distinct tracks that together will guide you through the main character’s eccentric journey, each one playing an important role in the overall storyline, introducing new elements and increasing the electricity flowing through the band’s top-notch music. And when the album is over, I bet you’ll catch yourself waiting for the final credits of this “movie”.

And the story begins with No Graves for the Dead, a fantastic fusion of Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal where guitarists Erik Collier and Darryl DeWitt shape up the musicality with their addictive riffs and create an amazing ambience for lead singer Steve Wynn to blast his furious growls, followed by Conscripted and its chorus that perfectly summarizes the main concept of the album (“Rise again / Conscripted / For conflict without end / Embrace eternal war / Live again / Unbound by death and fate of men / I fall, I rise again”). Guitar sounds from “outer space” are the main element in this tune, with drummer Aaron Schimmel and bassist Daniel McCoy firing their rhythmic beats and metallic lines respectively to provide the song a denser aura. And in Champion of the Dawn, a modern battle hymn led by the potent riffs by Erik and Darryl, we’re treated to tons of progressiveness and heaviness, not to mention the sonic impact of the thunderous bass guitar by Daniel.

Then we have more intricacy in the epic Black Ocean, which continues to tell the excruciating quest of the main character in a melodic and uproarious combination of Progressive, Death and Groove Metal. Furthermore, the way Steve declaims the lyrics with his raspy gnarls is spot-on to accurately depict the whole story being told. Featuring backing effects by Ryujixepic, Embers and Omens provides a calm acoustic bridge to the metallic Longhammer, easily one of the best songs of the album due to its headbanging rhythm, boisterous drumming and beautiful guitar lines, boosted by the endless amount of epicness contained in its lyrics (“Legend speaks of a mighty force / Sealed in its chamber, dormant for ages / Victims it enslaves will feel no remorse / Ripped from its tomb, the power rages / Flowing forth from a molten prison / Finding form in the ancient mold / Grasp the aspect of destruction arisen / Gods grant the name of the weapon I hold”). And Daniel and Aaron keep blasting our ears with their low, powerful beats and punches in Primal Revelation, showcasing a strong Amon Amarth vibe with the complexity found in modern Melodic Metal similar to the creations by Scar Symmetry.

undrask-picDespite not being as gripping as the rest of the album, Faceless Eyes is another good display of Undrask’s high-end Melodic Death Metal, especially the great sync between Steve and Aaron, whereas Final Right, the second to last track in Battle Through Time, keeps up with the electricity of the album by blending the violence of Melodic Death Metal with hints of Progressive Metal, as well as another excellent performance by Daniel with his bass lines. Lastly, the title-track Battle Through Time is the consummate climatic ending to the story, a feast of heavy riffs and rhythmic beats in eight minutes of first-class Melodic Death Metal, with highlights to the potent vocals by Steve and the piercing onslaught by Erik and Darryl with their axes.

This up-and-coming five-piece metal act is waiting for you at their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation, and in case you’re brave enough to join them in their battle through time you can grab your copy of the album at their BandCamp page (and soon at all major digital distributors). With a copy of the album on one hand and the powerful Longhammer on the other, you’ll be more than ready to face all challenges and dangers from the alternate realities generated by the music by Undrask.

Best moments of the album: No Graves for the Dead, Longhammer and Battle Through Time.

Worst moments of the album: Faceless Eyes.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. No Graves for the Dead 5:29
2. Conscripted 4:45
3. Champion of the Dawn 5:03
4. Black Ocean 4:53
5. Embers and Omens 1:03
6. Longhammer 3:53
7. Primal Revelation 4:56
8. Faceless Eyes 4:31
9. Final Right 6:12
10. Battle Through Time 8:21

Band members
Steve Wynn – vocals
Erik Collier – lead guitar
Darryl DeWitt – rhythm guitar
Daniel McCoy – bass guitar
Aaron Schimmel – drums

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