CD review UNDERTOW ‘Reap the Storm’

(9/10) A lot of things happened since Undertow released their seventh album „In Deepest Silence“. A line-up change took place in 2017 when longtime member Thomas Jentsch left Undertow and a successor needed to be found rather quickly. At that time recording activities have been planned already and things shouldn‘t face major delays. Fortunately Andreas Hund could fill the gap rather quickly.

Secondly Undertow was looking for a new label, providing a home base for the new album. After having been in contact with many labels, the band finally inked a deal with El Puerto Records in the beginning of 2018.

With all traffic lights on green work on the new longplayer continued, an album that marks another peak in Undertow‘s long history in metal.

What immediately stands out with ‘Reap the Storm’ is the wider approach in style. It feels like the addition of guitarist Markus Brand gave the Swabian powerhouse a bit more tools to play with. The new tunes include well-done leads and infectious solo parts that we haven‘t heard on the earlier releases to such an extent.

What also characterizes Undertow is Joschi‘s vocals. It‘s his phrasing and voice which makes Undertow very recognizable. It‘s the vocals, together with a hard hitting rhythm section, being the rock solid base of Undertow‘s new album.

Things start with ‘Floating’, which is an intro to the album and it‘s ‘Zero Type X’ that stands for the first highlight on the album. Undertow unveils their passion for thrash with this smasher, not to forget Joschi‘s blood-curdling scream in the beginning. „Zero Type X“ is the first thunderbolt on the album, an appetizer for more…and there is a lot more.

The heavy pounding „Reap the Storm“ gets out of the boxes very well before „Empire“ comes with a foot on the break – not when it‘s about intensity but when it‘s about pace. The tune is kept slower than the first two tracks and shows another aspect of Undertow.

A song that follows a similar pattern is entitled „Crown of Scars“ before „11 Hours“ stands for the first acoustic ballad Undertow recorded and it‘s a surprisingly good one.

Tracks like „Burdened“ increase pace and aggressiveness again before „I Turn to You“ strikes. If you have the idea of having heard the song before, you’re right. The song is a cover version of the Mel C. hit from 2000. Undertow keeps the main structure of the song but adds some heaviness to it. Things become edgy which means that Undertow’s interpretation of a pop song is still melodic but doesn’t end up in trivial mainstream. Releasing this song as a single and video could be a good idea.

„Reap the Storm“ is Undertow‘s most mature album to date. The quartet shifted their music to a next level, not standing still at all. Things look quite positive for the Swabian metal outfit. A great new album and new label should help the guys to establish the band even stronger in today‘s metal scene – beyond Germany and Austria.

(9/10)

Tracklist:

  1. Floating
  2. Zero Type X
  3. Reap the Storm
  4. Empire
  5. Thieves & Liars
  6. Crown of Scars
  7. 11 Hours
  8. Trails For the Blind
  9. Burdened
  10. I Turn to You (Mel C. cover)
  11. Dunning Krueger

Label: El Puerto Records

Genre: Thrash Metal

Release Date EU: September 21st, 2018

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