[Cover artwork by David Torturdød]
The allure only escalates as we scoot into adolescence. Toilets and all things toilet-related become high comedy, and watch-the-hell out once we discover how people react when we poke a finger into a nostril. Adding to our youthful degradation are countless corporations that look to capitalize on gross fixations. If you’re a flea-bitten geezer like me, you likely recall Chiller, Blurp Balls, Mad Scientist Monster Lab and the He-Man Slime Pit that swayed our formative years. Without question, juveniles in the modern age have found more sophisticated methods to explore life’s merrily misshapen side.
Put simply, we are conditioned to not only expect the grotesque, but to embrace its wet and wobbling form as one of life’s strange and twisted necessities. (In)appropriately, Denmark’s masters of all things sewered, Undergang, operate in a sphere that’s born from an Eternia slime pit and demonstrates a lifelong association and commitment to disgust. The humor is a little more on the “saluting a thermonuclear boil on your neck that just, awwwww, spoke its first words” end of the spectrum, but even the album cover for this, the band’s fifth full-length, appears as if it might be a Garbage Pail Kid that somehow managed to survive and become all growed up. (Deheaded Ted?)
In case you’ve somehow managed to remain unaware of their presence in the gutter of life, Undergang is in the business of reconfiguring a style of dripping death metal carefully excreted by an album such as Mental Funeral into something chunkier, thicker, and grosser, and they supplement that putridity by injecting a healthy dose of the earliest and rawest form of Earache grind. Undergang has always been quite good at this, but they were arguably best at it when they released 2015’s crowning spew of royal contamination, Døden læger alle sår. They continued the trend with 2017’s Misantropologi, which added a more substantial splurt of Reek of Putrefaction sickness, and now they’re back once again to sprinkle everyone’s 2020 with 30 fresh minutes of disgracefully degenerate illness. (Because your 2020 clearly hasn’t been diseased enough, yes?)
News flash: Aldrig i livit ain’t rocket science. Well, unless you consider packing a burning, putrefying hippo into a giant mortar and firing it straight up into the sky rocket science. I guess I do. You want Booker Award-winning wordcraft? Check out the poetic lyrics to opener “Præfluidum”:
How do you like those particular apples, sailor? Not quite sold yet? Well, there are a couple new slimy tricks up the sleeves of Aldrig i livit that will either embolden fans or deepen the division for those hoping for nothing but impossibly slow, low and stripped-down mold pulling you into the dark. The raw Carcassing is heightened further in 2020 with increased amounts of d-beaten crust in the corners and the introduction of a new growth that provides a raspier vocal accompaniment that sounds a bit like a carbuncle spluttering gripes (“Sygelige nydelser (Del III) Emetofili”). And a larger portion of these 30 minutes feel as if they’ve broken loose from the chains to trot naked and exposed into the open at a very respectable mid-pace. I say “feel as if” because most of Undergang’s work features moments where things suddenly hurtle, but something about the overall vibe of Aldrig i livet feels a touch more manic and free, as if the band has finally grown tired of hiding in the shadows of the sewer grate and now choose to parade their deformities in the light of day. Tip of the scalp to the way Greg Wilkinson and Earhammer Studios handles the mix / mastering to encourage this direction.
What’s really new, though—particularly if you didn’t pick up the Ufrivillig donation af vitale organer EP from 2019—is the extended pinch of, err, melody that’s entered the formula since Mads Haarløv joined the fold in 2017. It’s “melodious,” for certain, but it’s still exceptionally sickly and often sounds as if it leapt from the pages of the Peaceville era of Paradise Lost that bore Lost Paradise in 1990. The kick-off to “Indtørret lig,” for example, or the solemn nod to Greg Mackintosh throughout “Ufrivillig donation af vitale organer.”
Of course it all still very clearly sprouts from the same disgusting band that caused heads to immediately rot and fall off a decade ago, so don’t go expecting Undergang in 2020 to suddenly sound like Nile. David Torturdød’s primary vocals still sound like the sort of impossibly deep, flapping belch you’d expect to hear upon cutting open the gut of a swollen whale, and the overall bottom end here is as heavy as Chris Christie hitting a trampoline from 20 stories up. In other words, Aldrig i livet is still very much DISGUSTING MUSIC FOR DISGUSTING PEOPLE, and you are unquestionably a revolting individual for having any interest whatsoever in dipping your toe into this band’s cesspool yet again. But hey, it’s only natural, yes?