Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Undertow - At Both Ends (1993)



or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chugga

(thanks to GabbaGabbaHey for the correction to my quote. ^_~)

Undertow are yet another band from the early to mid 90's that bought a hurting to the dancefloor. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Undertow dropped some furious chunky hardcore on the heads of a bunch of ravenous teens. I was never able to see them live, but I'm pretty sure I would have had a conniption of sorts and would have flung myself into bodily harm over and over again scrambling to the stage to scream my vocals cords raw. One of the best things about Undertow was their nods towards more old school varieties of hardcore. Sure they could club you over the head and actually rape your unconscious body with riff after riff of metallic chug, but they threw in some great tension building moments of melodic old school hardcore. Lets look at Thrown Back, for instance. By far the shortest song on the album, but also one of the most effective. It starts with great old school, for about 10 seconds, then fades into feedback for about 30 seconds, then the chugga comes in, DUN DUN DUN - DUN DUN DUN. When the drums hit you just might get blown out of your seat. Or at least be inspired to actually get out of your seat of your own volition and maybe practice some of those windmills we were talking about. If this doesnt make you want to do windmills then youre listening to Yanni.

Instinct is another good example of that fast to hard sound. Imagine Mouthpiece or Outspokens faster parts, but throw in some serious mid paced metal crunch and you have the gist of what Undertow was about. John Pettibone also had a good scream too, which simultaneously sounds anguished and pissed as hell.

Now the clincher. Two songs. At Both Ends and Cedar. These, to me, are the foundations of this album. At Both Ends is a pretty typical mid 90's hardcore song, but theres always been something about it that is teeming with unbridled angst. Like they want to play faster, but instead they just lurch and stomp through these emotions of failure and unrequited love. It really touches a nerve for anyone who has ever been pissed about screwing themselves over, be it love, work or friends, and becomes and anthem for those inwardly directed feelings of doubt and anger.

Cedar is my favorite (next to Thrown Back), and guess what? Its anti-christian! Starting with a great bass sound this song just pounds. Loosely played drums, fierce dexterous riffing and anti-christian lyrics fuel an incredible hardcore song. The breakdown at the end is just nasty. I guess growing up Catholic, I have always been drawn to anti-christian songs. I mean check the lyrics: "tell me to kneel / bow down to his grace / and plea for my forgiveness / if what I've done is wrong in his eyes / then let my own spirit BE MY GUIDE!!... FORCED - TO SWALLOW YOUR LIES / I CANNOT - SWALLOW YOUR LIES"

Damn, think back to the Chokehold post, and remember the lyrics to Anchor: "I dont need your fairy tale to lean on!" or even better "Not no fictitious male being / Not no sexist book of lies!" (or the opening sample to Religion on a Stick for that matter - "I dream of the hour when the last congressman is strangled to death on the guts of the last preacher. And since the christians seem to love to sing about the blood, why not give them a bit of it? Slit the throats of their children and drag them over the mourners bench and the pulpit. And allow them to drown in their own blood. And we'll watch them in joy, singing their hymns")

Fucking br00tal...

14 Comments:

Anonymous jaysin said...

OK, so i had to go and break out my cd and listen to it. wow. looking at the photos i see the bass player has a STATEMENT patch on his strap. Does anyone have that 7" they can put up? I remember it being really, really good. This is the San Diego STATEMENT, not the british one man band on Hardline records.

Early 90s hardcore was such a great thing. Buying everything on New Age Records. I still put on Strife from time to time at the gym. Good running music.

What bands did the guys from Undertow go onto? Was someone in Botch? Also wasnt the bass player gay? I remember something about that causing a bit of ruckus back in the day.

5:40 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Pettibone went onto a bunch of bands, Nineiron Spitfire right after this, and now he plays in the Vows with the Unbroken guys.

Some of the guys went into Himsa.... shit, Bandtoband has it all...

5:44 PM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Damn, Bandtoband brought up a lot... Dempsey, Kiss It Goodbye, Nineiron Spitfire, Playing Enemy, The Helm, The Vows, Ten Yards Fight and Ensign...

fucking hardcore heroes...

Yes, Mid 90's hardcore was the shit. At least once a year I pull all these records out and get pumped.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Ben. said...

best NW 90s band IMO is STRAIN. "here and now" (new age rec'ds) is like a good mix of chokehold & integrity... millions of miles ahead of chokehold.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous leopoldo said...

if you like 90s hardcore check my band please.

www.myspace.com/eleternoenemigo

6:37 PM  
Blogger proven hollow said...

strain was amazing. someone should get off their ass and upload that. i was always lukewarm with undertow. i saw them with sparkmarker and sparkmarker pretty much mopped the floor with them. i seem to remember one of the undertow doods playing in that horridly wimpy quicksand cover band, shift. he also played in one of the various nyc susperstar bands hat never did anything. i wanna say it was worlds fastest car or one of those. i cant remember. i just remember seeing them and being like "wow, this band has alot of good people in it...and also that little pudgy kid from undertow..." but they werent very good. i'm liking the "vibe" of the recent posts, although i can;t bring myself to listen to these albums anymore...haha.

10:29 PM  
Blogger proven hollow said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:29 PM  
Blogger gabbagabbahey said...

actually, 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love the Chugga'

are you going to mention that word in every hc post now, since I brushed off snapcase? If so, cool. It's not that I don't like ordinary hardcore (hey, at least it's not metal) but it's just not nerdy enough for me. I might post up some pw now, since I listened to that all the time when I was 14...

10:51 AM  
Blogger blend77 said...

no no... thats all me. no other reason, and yes, you are right, How I Learned to Stop Worrying...

even back in the early 90's there was a divided stance on that chugga chugga kind of hardcore. my metal roots won over and i couldnt help but be attracted to mid paced crunch.

but thats it for a bit. I have one more chugga chugga hardcore album, but I'll post it later, i have two other posts in the pipes that you will like...

11:23 AM  
Anonymous jaysin said...

I have to say that one 90s band that still stands up today is 108. i have been listening to that again since a few weeks ago at the bar we had the argument about who was the best krsna band. Lots of votes for shelter, but i am sticking with 108. I also put in a vote for Zero Tolerance. This is what we do when it starts getting cold in MN.

In another vein, how many of you were into later 90s Swedish SxE? I was all over that: Refused, Final Exit, Seperation, Abhinanda, Bloodpath.... uh, Doughnuts not so much...,but the rest were pretty awesome.

11:59 AM  
Blogger blend77 said...

Abhinanda was awesome, I have thier first record from Desperate Fight... what about Shield! they were awesome... i should post that today...

not too into Doughnuts either, but 108 was the best Krsna band... of course I liked shelter alot, but 108 spoke volumes to me.... and 108 is still good... maybe i should post Holyname too...

someone said Soul Control was Krsna, is this confirmed?

12:07 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

i don't think soul control is a krishna band, but they have a lot of 'spiritual' elements and lyrics. when i saw them over the summer they lit incense and blew away every other band on the show.

7:31 AM  
Blogger blend77 said...

hardcore bands on stage with incense lit all around... that sounds pretty awesome...

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Viagra Online said...

I just don't mean to mess around, but it really think this band sucks. However, I also think you made such a great piece of work in here!

3:46 PM  

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