One of the things I love about having the opportunity to review albums is checking out bands that are just gaining a foothold beyond their local scene. Greensboro, NC metalheads, Undrask, are one of those bands I probably wouldn’t have learned about if not for having a copy of this album slid over to me by the Heavy Blog editors—but I’m glad it did.
Undrask’s first full-length Battle Through Time starts off in a vein not dissimilar from Clayman-era In Flames. The overall feel of the album, though, is something like Blind Guardian and the aforementioned Swedes. Enough time may not have passed yet to consider this a throwback to the melodic death of the early ’00s but damned if it doesn’t try.
The first three tracks, “No Graves for the Dead”, “Conscripted”, and “Champion of the Dawn” are pretty much all go from the jump. “NGFTD” shows off influences such as those already mentioned but also the kind of galloping pace displayed by 3 Inches of Blood and a shade of Dream Theater in a brief interlude. The next track shows glimpses of Children of Bodom-style rhythms before giving way to a bit of double-lead that might have you think about that Iced Earth album you haven’t listened to in a few years. The last of the trio is much the same but the energy and enthusiasm coming from this quintet is damn near infectious.
The mid-section of the album features a trio of songs that might fit in with a heavier, darker “pirate metal” set and I mean that in the funnest way possible. The trio of “Black Ocean”, “Embers and Omens”, and “Longhammer” all have that rollicking feel to them that get people hoisting beers. It’s just a really interesting change in the dynamic from the rather straight-forward melo-death that carries the first third of the album.
The remainder of the album is a return to what we heard from the start. “Final Right” is an enjoyable display of the band’s ability to apply lessons learned from DT and Symphony X. The album closer and title track begins with a riff that wouldn’t sound completely out of place on an old Coheed song and sends us off into Maiden-esque territory for the album’s outro ride off into the sunset (or oncoming storm).
At the end of the day what makes this a good listen is that you’re hearing a band unafraid of their influences. They sound like a group that knows who they are and what they’re good at while having a damn good time executing it. I’ll be really intrigued to hear what this band grows into on future releases. The bottom-line is this: if you like any of the bands I mentioned in the review and you like supporting smaller bands you should grab this album.
Battle Through Time from Undrask will be available through Bandcamp on January 27, 2017