Ahh, Undergang. In my opposite-of-humble opinion, they’re one of the best death metal bands going right now; their sound leaves you feeling filthy and rotten, as if you just witnessed a creepy old dude give some drunk chick the Charleston Shimmy in a dank bar. We sat down with David Torturdød (well – he sat in the back of a van and answered my email) and chatted about their ripping new album “Misantropologi,” other bands worth watching out for, and we gently ribbed him about not coming to Canada on their tour (next time, Undergang – Canada’s watching, politely and lightly buzzed).
“Misantropologi” is out now on Dark Descent Records (CD) and Me Saco un Ojo (LP). If you have even the remotest interest in death metal, it’s a blind buy, so get on that shit like green on beans.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get on with the good stuff. I present to you…
DIAG: We’ll start with a little something for those that might not be familiar with you guys: what bands have been the greatest influence on Undergang?
U: Hi there and thank you for inviting us to be Drunk in the Graveyard with you! Well, the greatest influence on UNDERGANG is likely the state of how fucked up mankind is and how awesome it is to be playing and listening to heavy death metal.
DIAG: How do you feel Undergang has evolved from album to album?
U: Rather naturally I’d say, we’ve never intentionally tried to change anything but have added a few twists to things and the way of writing and presenting our brand of death metal with a variation of trying out but slow, long, heavy, fast or short songs. Whatever the certain riffs would lead too when composing and constructing new songs. “Indhentet Af Døden” was the first batch of songs we ever wrote and we hardly really knew what we were doing besides wanting it heavy, catchy and disgusting. “Til Døden Os Skiller” was like a continuation of that as we were already working on some of those songs when we recorded “I.A.D.”, things then ended up sour in the studio with our friend Morten (the engineer) got booted from the studio and the files got lost besides the latest wav mix we had gotten some weeks before and we then had to try to finish up the album on our own with that which worked out to some extent. “Døden Læger Alle Sår” saw us wanting to include some more shorter songs, like we did on the “Søm Til Din Ligkiste” 7” and we then decided to have 10 songs on the album instead of 8 like on the past two albums. It then ended up being 50 minutes long which was unintentional, but the writing and construction of the album just lead to that. Thinking back it might be a little bit too long, but we wanted all the songs written for it included for the overall mood and feel of the album to be as intended. The new album “Misantropologi” was the first album and wrote and never got to play any songs off live before recording it as we had a line-up change on our new bassist Sam, who lives in Portland, Oregon, couldn’t be there to learn the songs before the tour that lead up to the recording session in Earhammer Studio in California. However, I feel like this new album is the best we’ve written and performed in the studio and it offers UNDERGANG with all of its ugly faces shown and a bit of new ground being covered too with more layering of vocals and different approaches to some of the song writing. Everything we’ve done sounds nasty and there’s a red line between all of it though, to me it’s all been a natural progression of things.
DIAG: Most death metal bands have English lyrics regardless of where they’re from; however, to date, all Undergang songs have been in Danish. It’s very distinctive. What made you choose to do that?
U: We get this question every once in a while and to be honest we just decided to write lyrics in Danish when we started out as we didn’t expect many people to care outside our local circle of friends, so it seemed natural to just keep it in our native tongue. We’ve since just stuck to it as it’s the obvious continuation for us as well as I guess it makes us stand out a bit, for better or for worse, haha. I also enjoy writing the lyrics in Danish, though it’s a bit of a shame that not everyone can understand them, I guess. They’re all rather tongue-in-cheek and with lots of play of words kind of things, so as well as they sound gruesome in their presentation vocally they’re also (hopefully) a bit entertaining to read.
DIAG: Let’s talk about the new album, “Misantropologi.” Congratulations on the release; as expected, it’s excellent and absolutely crushes. It’s also the first album released after the completion of the “Døden” trilogy. What does that mean to Undergang, and how is it reflected in the music?
U: Thanks a lot for the good words, I’m glad to read that you like the new album. We’re all 3 very happy about how it turned out and especially the LP version sounds SUPER heavy. We had already planned the title “Misantropologi” (which is a word I made up) a few years ago before we even ended the “Døden” trilogy as the title for the 4th album and we actually already have 2 more titles in mind for future albums also. The overall theme of “Misantropologi” was to continue the brutality and heaviness people had gotten to know UNDERGANG for and then throw in some more weirdness, shorter and faster songs and some more clean parts to break things up a little. We simply wanted to spice things up a little from the past 3 albums but still maintain what we know and love to do as well as what people might want and expect from us. It’s all been a very natural writing process though and Anders and I had a lot of fun coming up with and constructing the songs. It was a bit weird not getting to introduce/test the songs live before the actual recording session, but we did go into our friend Tuna’s studio Djævelsound in Copenhagen and do a demo session of 7 or 8 of the songs, just so we had a bit of an idea about how it sounded and what changes we might need to do before the final recording sessions in Earhammer.
DIAG: The artwork for “Misantropologi” is a gored-out version of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man; this is poignant and suggests a specific concept for the album. What was the idea behind this, and how does it reflect on the album?
U: Granted that it’s not the most original of ideas, we just found it as a suitable image for the made-up word “Misantropologi” as a study in hatred for mankind and a gutted, festering adaption of the Vitruvian Man seemed like a fitting presentation for that.
DIAG: “Misantropologi” is relatively short, coming in at just under half an hour. The songs are generally shorter than they have been in the past for Undergang. Was this a conscious decision, or did the songs just happen to fall that way?
U: Having the new album come off shorter than our past ones, especially with the growing length of the last two albums compared to the first one (generally expanded each album with 10 minutes each time) was a decision made as we wanted to go back and present a somewhat shorter presentation of all we have in mind for this album. The shorter songs we’re a premise of that as we wanted to include 10 songs but keep it a lot shorter than “Døden læger alle sår” which ended up at a full running time of 50 minutes, which was never intentional back then but ended up that way with the way we composed the songs for the overall picture of that album. We did two shorter and faster songs on the “Søm til din ligkiste” 7” released back in 2013 and we wanted to write some more songs in that vein along with adding a bit of new and some of the more expected UNDERGANG songs too. I believe “Misantropologi” is a bit more diverse album compared to our past offerings, but I also feel like this is the album the presents us the best in studio form. That it ended up just under 30 minutes was never 100% intentional, but we wrote the 9 songs and did our take of “The Chasm” by DISGRACE as we found all of that fitting for this release and it all turned out the way you see in its physical release now.
DIAG: You’re currently on a tour with Necrot; how is that going?
U: Things are going good, we’ve worked with Signature Riff from New Jersey for booking the tour again, Vinny has always been cool and supportive to us. I’m currently replying to this interview sitting in the backseat of the van with my laptop. We just played a small show in Raleigh, North Carolina last night and are heading to Richmond, Virginia for tonight shows. We’re almost 2 weeks in right now and have another 2.5 weeks to go still. The shows have been good overall and people seemed interested in seeing us live and even new people are still showing up to the shows that only just discovered us recently. Besides, getting to see NECROT every night is sick as they absolutely destroy the place every time. Their demos were great, the new album “Blood Offerings”, but it’s all about live that they really are presented the very best. Such a killer band. So, dear reader, check them out if you’re not already familiar with them!
DIAG: There are no Canadian stops on the tour. Why do you hate us? Canadians need Undergang too, you know.
U: Haha, fair put. No hate from us here though, this time around it was just more about the visa situation that we in the end decided to re-route the tour and cancel the discussed Canadian shows as we feared not being able to get back into the US and continue the tour without proper working visas for us Danes. The way things are now it’s too expensive for us to get work visas to accompany our US tours, so we’re here on tourist visas. The last two times I’ve flown into America I’ve been taken into the back rooms with security as the airports as they’ve started getting suspicious about my visits here as a “tourist”. I was held back 1.5 again this time when I flew into San Francisco airport. Hopefully at some point we can afford the work visas or if a serious prompter wants to bring us to Canada and pay for it we’re interested in that, but such an offer haven’t been presented yet.
DIAG: What bands in the current death metal scene do you feel should get more attention?
U: There’s a few bands back home that a truly rocking right now such as DEIQUISITOR and TAPHOS that I can’t recommended enough for everyone to check out. From Finland I’d recommended GOREPHILIA, GALVANIZER and CADAVERIC INCUBATOR. Other than that I’d say the newer US bands MORTUOUS, TORTURE RACK and FETID are really worth digging into. And I can never praise the Japanese masters of have ANATOMIA enough neither.
DIAG: Tell us about some of your favourite horror movies, both old and new.
U: I grew up watching a bunch of horror movies, a lot of really cheesy and often teenagy ones too. I used to host a weekly movie marathon at my dad’s place on Wednesday when I was in elementary school too, where a bunch of idiots like myself would gather and watch dumb rental movies or if one of us had recently recorded something “new” on VHS from TV during the past week or so. Some of my favorites from that time would be Cemetery Man, Gremlins, Fright Night, Braindead/Dead Alive, Alien, Killer Clowns from Outer Space, Critters, Lifeforce, An American Werewolf in London, The Things, The Deadly Spawn, Re-Animator, etc. As for newer ones I thought that The Human Centipede was cool and most recently the new Alien – Covenant was pretty decent. And on the looser side of things I really like the mockumentary What We do in the Shadows and The Cabin in the Woods.
DIAG: Finally, what’s next for Undergang?
U: We’ll continue promoting the new album with tours and festivals in Europe when we get home from the US tour in August, first off we have a small 5 day tour with Portland gorefiends LORD GORE and in October we’re doing another 7 day tour with Finland’s GOREPHILIA + some loose shows planned in Portugal, Norway and more to be confirmed. We also have a split 7” with DEAD coming out in the next couple of months and a split 7” is planned with GOREPHILIA too as well as a 4-way split with DEIQUISITOR, TAPHOS and my other band PHRENELITH. There’s also a 7” release coming as part of a book project of Danish youth horror author Benny Bødker that I’ve been working with doing illustrations for, it’ll contain an original song Benny wrote lyrics for and a BOLT THROWER cover coming out in the fall hopefully. So always a lot of things going on and coming up in our camp. Just the way we like it!
Thanks for the interview, to you for reading it and to everyone who has helped and supported our band over the years. We’re always open to booking offers and taking in mail orders for merch, interviews, etc. So hit us up through email@example.com if you want to get in touch.
D.M. / UNDERGANG
You can find Voidhanger on twitter talking about black metal, squirrels, and his secret unabashed love for Blair the Bear.