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Underdark – Managed Decline

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Underdark – Managed Decline

(c) Underdark

There are concept albums that slap a few loose narrative threads on the wall and hope something sticks, and there are concept albums that come across as a well-thought-out, fascinating whole from start to finish. The second album by Underdark definitely belongs to the latter category. On „Managed Decline“ Based on a story told over three generations, the quintet from Nottingham looks at what remained of Thatcher’s neoliberalism and how it developed into a major disaster.

“Managed Decline I (1st April 1988)”, the first section of the title song, captivates you within seconds. Post Black Metal is certainly an exciting choice for such a treatise, which also skillfully breaks with black metal expectations. Post rock and post-hardcore also play an important role for the Brits, although the sometimes frantic first half doesn’t really suggest that. However, the longer this frontal attack lasts, the more gripping and clever it turns out. The way Underdark rises, at first sedately, then almost intoxicated, from a similarly epic, drawn-out caesura that leads to edgy redemption leaves an impression.

Not all tracks take on such monumental dimensions, but they all exude tangible, thrilling tension. There is, for example, “Enterprise (November 1st 2004)”, at six and a half minutes almost radio-friendly and shaken in the most beautiful way by its horrifying pounding. When the mid-tempo section finally collapses and gives way to the almost melodic reduction, it’s all for naught. On the other hand, “Employment (16th June 1993)” seems to rush through. Claustrophobic melodic approaches skilfully underline the post-dimension and provide cautiously hopeful synergies in the midst of the endless outburst of anger.

One sweaty, harrowing tour de force later, this record hits the spot. Abi Vasquez throws up with increasing enthusiasm. Her throaty, hoarse vocals seem full of venom and malice, but are primarily based on inherited hopelessness. The pain, the frustration – all of this only floats to the surface with further runs. That’s exactly what makes “Managed Decline” so strong: Underdark packs a lot of detail and ambition into a black metal punch that pushes musical boundaries with increasing enthusiasm and combines hypnotizing storytelling with equally rousing music. They will have to be measured against this delicacy in the future.

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Rating: 8/10

Available from: November 24th, 2023
Available via: Church Road Records

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Underdarkuk

Slider-Pic (c) Underdark

Tags: featured, full-image, managed decline, post black metal, post metal, review, underdark

Category: Magazin, Reviews

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