Slick by UnderRelease date: May 31, 2017
Label: APF Records
Slick; Smooth and glossy, suave, sly. Shrewdly adroit. A smooth or slippery place or spot, or the substance causing it.
The substance causing this slick of course, being Under, a Stockportian trio, borne from the ashes of Halfling’s Leaf, although taking a darker, more discordant path to their musical fulfilment.
Under have been regularly plying their troubled brand of doomy noise to a loyal following for a few years now, playing with everyone from Church of the Cosmic Skull, Big Business and Whores to completing a mini-tour in the UK with Kurokuma. Personally, I’ve only managed to see them live a couple of times, but I can honestly say that they’ve blown me away on both occasions. Live, they’re tight, angular, disturbed and at times obnoxiously heavy. Their opening EP, First Attempt was quite clearly from a band that knew exactly what they were doing, and very much served as a statement of intent. Two years later, Slick will be unleashed from the void and encouraged to wreak havoc on those brave enough to listen.
Under have managed to bring the pace and heaviness of doom, merge this with vocals varying from eerie harmony to screamed fury, and angular, off kilter guitar pieces and produce something that is drenched in atmosphere, from ‘Mirth of Crows‘ with its disorienting stop/start/slow/fast angular almost riffs and added murder of crows, to the slow build and thunderous finish of ‘Below In The Wreck’. This is not your usual heavy chug and scream fest. There is deft use of change in pace, tone and texture to build tracks and constantly evolve their sound throughout the album which results in a remarkably consistent and interesting whole for such a varied record. A thoroughly disturbed, eerie, complex, angular, consistent whole at that.
Overall, Slick leaves you with an abstract and almost undefinable sense of unease, especially during parts of ‘Straw Man’ where it rapidly switches between tightly defined riffage and atonal drawl, which makes you feel like your brain is melting round the edges. Under have hit that magical balance where there are equal parts of deliberate, obtuse and unpredictable malice, driving, insistent riffs and unorthodox harmonies which deliver an enthralling listen from start to finish. This certainly lives up to all expectations, Under are a band well worth investigating, both recorded and live if you get the chance.