The debut album from the Camden, New Jersey-based, one-man project Underer sounds absolutely wild — and, at the same time, the wild energy feels staggeringly focused, like a jolt to the chest. More specifically, the album — which is called The Code and is available now via Nefarious Industries — sounds like getting shocked in the chest with a defibrillator over and over. Listening feels a bit like rushing right on up to the edge of a cliff, falling over — and then getting right back up to the top to fall over again. It’s controlled chaos of a powerful variety.
Underer is the work of Nick Shellenberger, who’s also a part of the Philly-area avant-garde metal band Cleric, in which he’s the vocalist and keyboardist. The songs of Underer feel far more attuned to providing an experiential listening journey than they’re attached to some kind of preconceived notion of song structure of presentation. Frantic programmed drums, chaos on the apparent guitar, and other elements like electronica spiral into and out of each other throughout the record, with chaotic rhythms at play as if unhinged noise rock has suddenly been made a whole lot heavier. The elements sound like they’re constantly colliding, but there’s a somehow beautiful energy at the middle of it all, as if the collisions are providing some kind of light show or something. The Code feels like musical fireworks — there’s a whole lot of energy, and it all pops.
The second track, called “Lady,” is the longest, and it seems to well-encapsulate the musical approach of the record as a whole. Shellenberger starts out with some pretty straightforward chaos, as he delivers his menacing, roared vocals along with the music, and as the over seven minute-long track proceeds, he devolves the song into some more atmosphere-oriented sections, which eventually give way to a menacing, super heavy, unstable-sounding chugging that rounds out the song. Meanwhile, the next song — “Steven” — starts off on a rabidly chaotic note, and it soon evolves into a push-and-pull between that frenzy and what sounds like a super heavy, pummeling bass line — which eventually gives way to some more ambiance before the last burst of gut-rattling intensity that closes out the song.
That push-and-pull continues throughout the album. “Miniature Jimmon,” which closes the record, is perhaps the most intense part of the album, but there’s plenty of atmosphere around it. As a whole, The Code feels like a soundtrack for a haunted house that you didn’t know was haunted when you walked inside but now heaves and throws itself around as if the building itself is somehow alive.
Check out the album below!