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Untimely Demise - "City of Steel" (CD)

Untimely Demise - "City of Steel" CD cover image

"City of Steel" track listing:

1. Virtue In Death
2. Hunting Evil
3. City Of Steel
4. Unmaker
5. Forget Of Belief
6. Streets Of Vice
7. Bloodsoaked Mission

Reviewed by on November 1, 2011

"THE sleeper hit of this fall, promising much more to come."

Rare is the new metal band that absolutely defies categorization (and sounds good in the process), but rarer still is the precious band that manages to narrowly avoid it, despite familiar influences. The band blessed with the proverbial best of both worlds – the comfort of swift accessibility and the distinct stamp of identity – that appears to abound at first glance, but upon closer examination is a real bitch to come by. Untimely Demise is that band.

If you’ve already sampled their debut “City Of Steel” via our exclusive stream right here on Metal Underground – and I hope you have – my remarks here should ring true. And if you haven’t, then fire that puppy up before you resume reading, so you can drench yourself in metal bliss while wading through my babbling, shameless praise.

Listening yet? Good. Undoubtedly many will corral Untimely Demise in with the recent wave of “retro-thrash” across the land. They’ll be wrong. While sifting through this band’s old-school influences isn’t exactly difficult, it’s the influences themselves and the adaptation thereof that set these guys apart. Far more Teutonic than Bay Area, the core of “City Of Steel” hungrily laps up the shared bloodline of “Big Three” Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom. First three burners “Virtue In Death,” “Hunting Evil,” and the title track firmly plant this flag in the ground before giving way to “Unmaker,” a relatively mid-paced steamroller that tempers snarling German aggression with the powerful thump of Judas Priest at their heaviest – and some of the most creative melodic leads I’ve heard in quite a while. The neck wrecking returns with “Forget Of Belief,” and evolves into merciless, machine-gunning groove on “Streets Of Vice.” Closer “Bloodsoaked Mission” tears a massive bite out of all that came before, shifting tempos and angles of attack with abandon, and gracefully wraps up this punchy seven-track LP before the music has any chance to wear itself out.

Additionally, the prominent Teutonic presence here guarantees two significant stylistic attributes: insidious melody and a chilling, sinister vibe. Indeed, vocalist/guitarist Matt Cuthbertson’s throaty rasp handily links the classic likes of Schmier, Mille Petrozza, and Tom Angelripper with the modern “blackened thrash” practiced by such current acts as Witchery and Skeletonwitch. Cuthbertson and his ranks (including brother Murray) mirror this heritage in the music as well, by infusing their pile-driving assault with a bevy of guitar leads and solos as melodic and delicious as anything you’ve tasted from the heavyweights this year. Amid darkness and aggression, this music sings.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan may be an unlikely place to spawn such a band, but the North American metal map is now all the better for it. Anyone who follows my reviews with any modicum of interest may have detected a vast reserve of (debatable) generosity on my part. True; I tend to seek the good in what I hear. But while I approached Untimely Demise with average expectations, their fresh and distinct take on a seemingly overplayed genre completely floored me. “City Of Steel” is THE sleeper hit of this fall, promising much more to come.

Highs: Each track is a constant reminder that thrash, in all its variants, is still a vital and fruitful arena for young metal musicians.

Lows: No real lows on this baby, though an instrumental would've been nice.

Bottom line: An unlikely and unexpected burner of a record that rips through blackened Teutonic thrash with melody and madness. A real gem.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)