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")