Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Underdark - I Am Above All
Wraith Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. Basements of Consciousness
2. Apotheosis of Insignificance
3. Break Out
4. Leaving
5. Depth of Idea (insTrueMental)
6. I am Above All
7. I Have Become the Wind
8. Hør Min Sang

This was an obvious purchase because this album features the drummer from Drudkh and Astrofaes going solo, but I’m more familiar with Drudkh.  I was expecting a fairly high quality release considering this drummer’s CV/résumé.  I guess on some levels I was expecting another Necromorbus success, since Chaos Omen is such a great work, but, alas, Amorth isn’t quite that good.

Anyway “I am Above All” for the most part is a pretty good release.  It’s not surprising to point out that in terms of guitar work it bears some resemblance to Saenko’s work.  Though, I would say more in the vein of Hate Forest than Drudkh in influence.  Underdark is much rawer than the other bands Amorth has performed with and it’s not nearly as solid in my perspective.  At times the drums seem disjointed from the rest of the music, which I found to be very curious considering this guy is clearly a good drummer.  For example in the song “Leaving” it’s riddled with off beat sequences that just feel so far out of place that it doesn’t work.  I don’t mind my fair share of well done off timed drumming, but this is not well done to me.  It seems more like Amorth struggles to bring the beats to an off time level and tries to force the song to his “experimental” will but the song just won’t listen to him, so it sounds, in the end, like there are two tracks being played in opposition to each other.  The one saving grace for Amorth is that I know he’s doing it on purpose and it’s not due to his inexperience behind a kit, for those of you wondering what the difference is between the off timed drumming in Judas Iscariot versus the off time drumming in Underdark. 

Regardless, the strong point here is the guitar work because some of these riff sequences are just great.  Listen to the song “Basement of Consciousness” and try and tell me that doesn’t have a great guitar line.  It’s mesmerizing and so well done to me.  The vocals on the album are kind of just there, they don’t exactly stand out or enhance the song, and they just kind of exist in their own right, but don’t add or take away from the music.  It’s pretty standard form Black Metal in that regard at least.  “I Have Become the Wind” is by far the best track that’s done by Underdark.  It’s got distorted guitar mixed with clean and is at a slower pace than the other tracks, but it’s got a lot more emotion behind it than the others I thought.  This was definitely a highlight track for me and a whole album of this quality wouldn’t at all be a bad thing to me!  The more shocking song on here and another of the best is the cover track at the end.  It’s originally by Kari Rueslatten, as many may know of her from her work in Storm that also featured Satyr and Fenriz, though she is not proud of that.  Her main claim to fame, though, is The 3rd and the Mortal.  Amorth upped the recording quality for this particular track and it really changes how the album closes entirely, which is a high-point for the album.  Having a good closer is never a bad thing.

Overall this is nothing new that hasn’t really been done before.  I would prefer to listen to the works of Hate Forest and Drudkh over this to be honest.  Underdark is a much more raw tone, so if you ever wanted to hear a rawer version of those works then this is probably what you’re looking for.  I personally wish he had produced it in a similar manner and tried less off beat sections on the drums; it really throws off the guitar lines horribly.  In the end I would hardly say this album is “above all,” but its okay, a mediocre release in the end to be perfectly honest.  I think this musician could have done better when it comes right down to it, not that I’m looking for a Hate Forest copy-cat, but I think it could have had some improvements in the works.

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