Danish filth monsters, Undergang, have spent years churning out their disgusting brand of death metal. So disgusting that they will eventually themselves the title of a sub-sub-sub-genre like “reek-core” or “stench-grind” or “filth-jizz.” You know, something absurdly specific that encompasses maybe three or four bands on the planet. Their 4th full-length, Misantropologi, sees the band reaching new depths in vocals, previously unheard levels of downtuned rot and murk and plenty of vomit-inducing rhythms. Yet somehow, through all the coagulated excrement Undergang remains true to their metal overlords: the riff and the groove.
With no tracks exceeding five-minutes, Misantropologi is Undergang’s shortest album to date clocking in at under thirty minutes. With prior efforts Døden Læger Alle Sår (2015) and Til Døden os Skiller (2012) nearing a full hour in run-time they became physically draining experiences to slog through. Yet, where Misantropologi is victorious in length, it’s a step down in compositional complexity. Tracks are streamlined, more comfortable and ultimately easier to digest. Thus, it’s not actually a bad thing. It’s actually quite good. Somewhat ironically, the production is excellent, containing some of the most complex mixing to date. Easily the best in their young career.
Misantropologi is slower than their previous records. There are no blast beats across it (save for a brief blast on “Sygelige Nydelser (Del II) Tafefili”) and there is hardly any rhythm that exceeds a gallop. In fact, it’s almost what could be described as a doom take on Undergang (for them). Certainly the band has had their slower moments like aspects of “Dødshymne” or “Rådden Messe.” But still, earlier iterations of this pacing contained a hefty amount of brief connecting riffs supported by blasts.
“En Bedemands Bekendelser” presents a halting, jerking experience. Opening with a rather lovely-yet-haunting piano line that bleeds into the main guitar line. That’s right. There ain’t no riff here. Just a hauntingly slow, rolling track headed by a harmonized guitar line. As the track nears conclusion, the pacing picks up to a gallop and nears punk-rock distortion before dropping into the similarly crawling, “Væskende Sår.”
We can’t close this review without discussing the absolute putrescence of the vocals. How anyone is able to speak this low, let alone use rhythm and croaks and gurgles is beyond me. “Sygelige Nydelser (Del II) Tafefili,” the shortest track on the album, features vocals that not only function as a separate, alternating rhythm but also croaking so deep it would make a three hundred year old frog shiver.
The highlight comes at the ninth track, “Tvangsfodret Pigtrad.” More layered than previous tracks, a lead guitar line floats over the downtuned rhythm guitar work. The track drops into a cavernous, chugging rhythm overlaid by vocals deeper than Mariana Trench. The longest track on the album, “Tvangsfodret Pigtrad” weaves it’s way through caves of death metal, slowly undulating towards its vicious conclusion. (Should also note that the album closer, “The Chasm” is a pretty sweet tribute to Finland’s Disgrace.)
Here’s the part in the review where I was going to make the claim that Døden Læger Alle Sår was, and would forever be, their best album. An album where all the forces of death metal combined to make the perfect album for their sound (but, unfortunately not the production). But now, I think otherwise. Misantropologi might not the best entrance point for newcomers, but it is a near perfect death metal record. In fact, I would challenge Undergang to top this. Because, if they ever do top it, they will enter an elite echelon of death metal acts.
Fans of raw sewage, rotting whale carcasses and plague-riddled elderly will be lining up at their local record shop to pick up a moldy, soggy copy of Misantropologi. Don’t be afraid to muscle your way through them. Only those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty will appreciate the subtleties of Misantropologi.