Over the last few years, few bands in the space of extreme music have harnessed the kind of momentum that New York's Undeath have. Positioning themselves at the forefront of the new wave of American death metal, the band's 2020 debut, Lesions Of A Different Kind marked their emphatic arrival and quickly earned praise as one of the best efforts of the year.
Treating the genre with a sense of reverence, Undeath were championed as revivalists, new school practitioners that understood and appreciated the greats of the genre that preceded them. The combination of classic sensibility and contemporary execution allowed Undeath to resonate with fans spanning generations. Death metal purists appreciated the band's timeless testament to their lineage, while the new school embraced the band's modern approach to the extremity of the genre.
The initial hype that propelled Undeath to become leaders in the new wave of death metal became something much more substantial with the rollout for 2022's It's Time... To Rise From the Grave. Tracks like "Defiled Again" and "Fiend For Corpses" flexed an unrelenting brutality and the kind thematic extremity that harkened the OGs like Cannibal Corpse in way that showed reverence, without simply regurgitating what had been done before.
While the band's pedigree has long been established, the other aspect of their artistry that made Undeath so engaging was a very unique ability to make something so grim, so equally fun. The band's blood-soaked, gore-obsessed spectacle was further reiterated with the visuals that anchored their most recent album cycle. From their nod to the first-person shooter of Duke Nukem in "Necrobionics" to cleaver-wielding mayhem of "Head Splattered Seven Ways", Undeath's complete approach to musical macabre evolved into equal parts soundtrack and grindhouse flick.
Last year, frontman Alex Jones gave Knotfest a crash course into the kind of genre classics that mattered most to him. To get better sense of what compels Undeath aesthetically, it seemed important to get his list of movies that were just as influential. At the helm of a band that depicts scenes of the rise of zombie armies and went to the most infamous cemetery in America to film a music video, it seemed only right to get Undeath's take on what classic horror that stuck with them long enough to impact their craft.
Under the Skin
Jones - Probably the scariest movie I've ever seen in my entire life. I still think about it all the time. I watched it a few years ago on a whim and it ended up absolutely destroying my mood for about an entire week afterwards. Pure, unrelenting psychic terror from start to finish. Enjoy the beach scene!
Jones - I think you're obligated to put this one down as a favorite horror movie if you're a dude in a band, but it's just so good. Being a touring musician is already one of the most nightmarish realities I can think of, so it lends itself naturally to a horror setting. You'll never look at Captain Picard the same way again.
Jones - I actually saw this movie for the first time last year, believe it or not. It's just one of those pieces of pop culture ephemera I had been exposed to in bits and pieces for so long I felt like I didn't really need to actually sit down and watch it, but boy was I wrong. What an incredible movie.
Jones - This is one of those movies where I truly feel like the less you know about it going in, the better. Even if you do go in mentally armored for whatever Takashi Miike is going to throw at you though, nothing could possibly prepare you for the final 20 minutes of this movie.
Practical effects junkies always gush about movies like Hellraiser and The Thing, and rightfully so, but Society never gets enough love for the absolutely unhinged imagery it throws at you. Just wait for the "Butthead" scene and thank me later.
Jones - Grow a gaping orifice in your stomach and stick a pistol up it. Let your deranged hallucinations (or ARE they hallucinations?) mutate your TV into a throbbing, veined flesh-cube which spawns all of your deepest neuroses with frightening immediacy. And for the love of god, will someone in Hollywood finally let Cronenberg direct his Dead Space adaptation?
The Wicker Man
Jones - Everyone knows how this movie ends, but it's how we arrive at that fated hill at sundown that makes this movie an unshakable horror classic. Sex, politics, religion - all explored with a deft and thorough precision while never sacrificing that overwhelming sense of dread the best horror movies leave you with.
Jones - My Instagram feed is constantly being bombarded with well-meaning friends and acquaintances sharing NASA photos of distant galaxies and black holes. I know this is supposed to inspire a sense of wonder and astonishment in me, but I've seen Alien - I know what's out there. A cold, inhospitable vacuum filled with phallic terrors. I'm good down here.
Jones - It just never gets old. In a fit of rage Kurt Russel pours his scotch into his video chess machine. Wilford Brimley ties a little noose out there in his shed. The dogs. The blood test. The arm-biting. Come on. You can't beat it.
Jones - Now, is this exactly a horror movie? I'm not sure. It's got the set-up for one - a witch lures a group of high school girls into her creepy old house to feed on their souls (and kill them off in increasingly bizarre ways), but what about everything else? It's got music, dancing and a distinct 70's flair that borders on camp. It's fun! It's funny! You just gotta see it for yourself.
Undeath is paving the way for the new wave of American death metal, bringing back not only the hard-hitting sound, but something that has been lacking in the recent iterations of the genre: the humor. Undeath embrace that humor without taking it to cheesy levels, and while masterfully executing each track.
It’s Time…To Rise From The Grave is a classic in the making. Get your copy HERE.
Catch Undeath on the Slave to the Grave Tour with 200 Stab Wounds. Get tickets - HERE
“Slave To The Grave Tour 2022” w/ Undeath, 200 Stab Wounds, Enforced, Phobophilic
Nov. 11 – Cambridge, MA @ Sonia
Nov. 12 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Nov. 13 – Brooklyn, NY @ St Vitus
Nov. 15 – Baltimore, MD @ OTTOBAR
Nov. 16 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Nov. 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
Nov. 18 – Orlando, FL @ Wills Pub
Nov. 19 – Miami, FL @ Gramps
Nov. 20 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum (Inside)
Nov. 22 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Nov. 23 – Austin, TX @ Spider Ballroom
Nov. 25 – Dallas, TX @ Cheap Steaks
Nov. 26 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s
Nov. 28 – Mesa, AZ @ Nile Underground
Nov. 29 – Tucson, AZ @ THE ROCK
Nov. 30 – Las Vegas, NV @ American Legion Post 8
Dec. 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
Dec. 4 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco
Dec. 5 – Sacramento, CA @ Goldfields Trading Co
Dec. 7 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s
Dec. 8 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Dec. 10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Dec. 11 – Denver, CO @ HQ
Dec. 12 – Kansas City, MO @ The Rino
Dec. 13 – Lincoln, NE @ The Royal Grove
Dec. 14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
Dec. 15 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
Dec. 16 – Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry
Dec. 17 – Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
Dec. 18 – Rochester, NY @ Photo City Music Hall