It has to be said that Sheol, the debut full-length offering from experimental metallers Underjord, is indeed an intriguing listen. An individual and striking release, there’s this great air of mystery to the music, and it really helps to draw you in as a result.
One of the best things about Sheol is the fact that Underjord aren’t afraid to mix things up, showcasing beautiful acoustic folksier moments with crushing doomy riffs and meaty vocals – and the contrast between the two is something to behold. They’ve just blended everything seamlessly together and nothing feels out of place or like it doesn’t fit; Underjord have really crafted their own unique sound here.
An early favourite is third track Hunt Of The Death God, an almost haunting track that inexplicably gets stuck in your head after only a few listens, especially with the repeating guitar melody that weaves in and out of the song. The minimalistic percussion also works particularly well, helping to keep the track moving but not becoming overpowering, which is a great touch.
However, the highlight of the album has to be To Death, a three-part epic that sits rather nicely in the middle of the album. The first of the three serves partially as an introduction, building up the atmosphere and setting the scene for things to come with ambience and sparse instrumentation paired up with stunning clean vocals. Following this, the second part hits you like a tonne of bricks by immediately getting moving with a wall of guitars before the powerful vocals are added and the track gets fully underway, continuing with the framework that was set up in part I of the song, yet somehow adding more. The three-parter is then rounded up with the final part, which almost lulls you into a false sense of security, winding things down with a stunning guest reed solo before the track builds up and up, adding more and more instrumentation for one final climax. Absolutely excellent stuff.
Although at times it does feel a little repetitive (but one can argue that repetition and ostinatos are a big characteristic of doom music), Sheol is a succinct and well-rounded album, and is a release that deserves your undivided attention from start to finish. An all-round excellent listen.