Undersmile are a band from Oxford, England who make an absurdly slow racket commonly known as sludge. Apart from coming from Oxford and not New Orleans, what marks this band out as ‘something a little bit different’ is the fact that they are fronted by two – not one, but two – female vocalists. But before you go off in a ‘they probably sound like Nightwish or Within Temptation’ fuelled frenzy (they don’t), take some time to give them a go and you might discover something that you might quite like.
However, that depends on your view of sludgecore as a musical genre. Grimier than the doomy likes of Saint Vitus or Cathedral, most of the tracks here are played at a pace that a snail would have to apply the brakes for; the twelve minute-plus dirge of ‘Berk’ being a perfect example. But where some bands of this ilk can simply bore the pants off you by aimlessly grinding away for what seems like an eternity, Undersmile – and most notably singer/guitarists Hel and Taz with their haunting, hymn-like harmonies – don’t seem to have the same effect. In fact, it’s worth playing the whole song through to see if the band can stay at that ridiculously slow pace.
It goes without saying that “Narwhal” is an album that isn’t going to appeal to everybody but that isn’t really the point. It can be a bit of a slog at times – it isn’t an album to put on whilst getting ready to go out, that’s for sure – and if you’re not totally on board with the deathly slow pace then it could probably be quite painful, but it is unique and something that does deserve to be heard so if you fancy hearing something you probably haven’t heard before then this could be worth a punt.