underling1Californian atmospheric black metal band Underling have recently signed to Neuropa records, giving us a chance to catch up with two great releases, 2013’s ‘Breathe Deeply’ and 2015’s ‘Bloodworship’, both re-issued in glorious digipack form.

Playing with a potent mix of outright aggression, blackgaze ambience and a whole lot of emotional intensity, both discs have something special to offer, with ‘Breathe Deeply‘ being the more “subtle” of the two.

The understated yearning of opening track ‘Erosion’ at first unsettles, with quiet, hushed voices, until vocalist Antonio Palermo unleashes his desperate howl. We are then off into a wider landscape of free-flowing bass and double-kick drumming, while the guitars anchor the song with emotional weight.

The sound moves into a more hopeful nature with ‘Guided’, which certainly has a whiff of Nachtmystium at their most expansive, and even at times gives the the impression of what Seattle’s Murder City Devils might sound like as a metal band.

All good attributes, to be sure.

Even the “Glastonbury anthem” feel of ‘My Bones Lay Bare’ hints at salvation, until things get nasty, leaving the torment of ‘Seizures Over Sullen Water’ to round off the EP.

A great introduction to Underling certainly, but the sound of a band still finding their way…

underling2…which is found (in great style) with the more aggressive full-length album ‘Bloodworship‘.

Though containing more elements of death metal and hardcore, Underling’s emotive leanings still show through on this album. This proves an effective counterpoint to the Satyricon-esque riffs and vicious vox of ‘Blackout’, the rampant nature of ‘Servant Of Filth’, and the doomy tribal punch of  ‘Downpour’. Even the female vocals and melody of ‘The Seventh Wall’ adds another string to the bow, providing a great centrepiece to ‘Bloodworship’, that in clumsier hands, would be distracting.

Palermo’s vocals really come alive on this album, and on ‘Clawing At The Rot’ he sounds utterly possessed, while the aspirational guitar lines of ‘Adore’ and the pop-punk vibe of ‘Stay’, sends us reeling into the melancholy of the closing instrumental ‘Becoming The Faintest Light’.

…Very, very impressive, with top-notch production too.

Underling are a band that display many sides, but know exactly how to handle, control and execute each of these components, making ‘Breathe Deeply’ and ‘Bloodworship’ essential listening for different reasons.

Big thanks must go to Neuropa Records for releasing these…I suggest that you go out and buy both CD’s!

(8.5/10 – Breathe Deeply 9/10 – Bloodworship) Stuart Carroll