10 reasons why you need Undeath in your life

In the past 18 months, New York heavyists Undeath dropped one of modern death metal’s best albums and destroyed Download Festival. As they prepare to return to the UK, vocalist Alex Jones and guitarist Kyle Beam tell us everything we need to know about big riffs, killer shows and how brutal a pair of Crocs can be…

10 reasons why you need Undeath in your life
Jake Richardson
Errick Easterday

Undeath’s thrilling It’s Time… To Rise From The Grave was one of last year’s strongest metal albums. A bludgeoning work of death metal that’s imbued with a genuine sense of joy, it’s a bonkers ride that’s best experienced loud.

The Rochester, New York five-piece are currently the most exciting band in the genre, something they evidenced at this summer’s Download, where their welcoming live approach won them legions of new admirers. With a love of Ozzy, classic death metal and, er, holey footwear Crocs driving them, they’re determined to stamp their mark on the metal scene in their own uniquely fun way.

With a little help from frontman Alex and guitarist Kyle, here’s 10 reasons why Undeath are the heavy band you simply can’t ignore…

1Download was their biggest show to date… and they properly annihilated it

Stepping out in front of a bursting tent, Undeath absolutely killed it at Castle Donington in June…

Alex Jones (vocals): “Download was incredible – a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience from top to bottom. To play to a tent full of 8,000 people was crazy. The set went really, really well and the crowd response was amazing. Download was everything we could have asked for and more. It was a super-rewarding experience. We had an amazing time.”
Kyle Beam (guitar): “We normally play to about 1,000 people, so the Download show was by far and away the biggest thing we’ve ever done. Plus, shows in the UK are always awesome.”
Alex: “People in the UK are always in good spirits at shows – you guys are always down to get rowdy, party and rage with us, which is great. It’s something you don’t see in a lot of other countries, so we really love playing in Britain.”

2Their gigs are built around a sense of community and positive energy

Undeath have built a reputation as an incredibly fun and wholesome live band. Which is no mean feat when you’re dealing in death metal…

Alex: “I don’t know if there is an exact science to achieving the kind of atmosphere we do, but as the guy tasked with engaging with everyone, I take inspiration from my days in punk and hardcore in DIY spaces. Growing up at those shows, I got the sense that I was no different to the people onstage – I felt like I could get up there, do what they were doing and start my own band. That communal spirit was, and continues to be, very inspiring to me. I try to translate that energy to all our sets. If people want to get involved, there’s no artifice, no barrier separating us from the crowd – unless there is a physical barrier, which sucks! But I want people to feel that, outside of taking our instruments off us or robbing us, they can get onstage and have fun with us at any moment. That’s the kind of spirit we try to bring – everyone in Undeath tries to evoke that.”

3Their brand of death metal is inspired by Ozzy’s mischief

Like their shows, there’s a sense of excitement to the music Undeath make, with Alex taking influence from The Prince Of Darkness and harnessing his inner rock showman…

Alex: “I always go back to Ozzy Osbourne when I think about how to make our music fun, because he’s one of my favourite frontmen of all time. He’s obviously an icon for his musical achievements, but the reason I look up to him so much is because that motherfucker was smiling onstage 24/7. Black Sabbath, at least on their first couple of records, were very spooky and evil, but Ozzy always had a smile on his face, grinning from ear-to-ear, engaging the crowd and letting it be known that he was having an amazing time doing what he was doing. Growing up listening to Sabbath and watching him perform, it was all so infectious, and while musically it’s certainly different to the death metal we do, I try to channel his energy. I want to make it known that we’re here to engage with people and have as much fun as possible.”

4But that doesn’t mean they don’t take their deathly craft incredibly seriously

Beneath their breezy exterior lies a band whose talent and passion for songwriting makes them stand out from the crowd.

Kyle: “I’m always with my guitar and writing, and the musical side of the band is something we take very seriously. We spend a lot of time obsessing over the small details of a track, which in the grand scheme of things probably wouldn’t make or break the song, but that’s just how we always work.”
Alex: “There’s a lot of trust between us in this band when it comes to the writing. Kyle, Jared [Welch, guitar] and Tommy [Wall, bass] are all shredders and consummate professionals. They’re always full of ideas for what makes a good death metal song, and what the tracks need to take them to the next level.”

5The musical backgrounds in the band are pretty diverse

While the instrument players in Undeath all have a great deal of technical experience, Alex comes at things from a surprisingly different perspective. With no formal training to call on, it’s almost like Undeath have a fan fronting the band, but the resulting chemistry leads to some great output.

Alex: “I’m just a person that knows the notes on a guitar, but that’s it. I couldn’t tell you anything about scales, rudiments or anything like that. So in the physical writing process, I sit back and let the guys cook, and then once they’ve got the songs I’ll come in and go over it with them. My notes are generally pretty simple, like, ‘Play the breakdown longer’ – stuff like that. It’s usually minor contributions from me until it’s time to record. I almost view my job as kind of like an MC, where I’m just here to communicate the vision of the people I have standing behind me.”

6They produced one of last year’s best death metal albums

It’s Time… To Rise From The Grave was a contender for the death metal album of 2022, and felt like it gave the genre a youthful, energised shot in the arm. As the rapturous response the band got at Download proved, its impact is still being felt over a year later.

Kyle: “I’m so proud of that record. We spent a lot of fucking time on it during COVID – it felt like there was nothing to do but write death metal!”
Alex: “I still can’t believe the reception that the album got and the places it’s taken us. It exceeded all our expectations, and I’m so appreciative of the way it’s changed our lives. But at the same time, I can’t wait for the next one. I’m someone who’s always looking forward. We dropped a great record in It’s Time… To Rise From The Grave, but now I’m stoked on the next album. I think people are going to be really excited by it.”

7And they dropped an awesome live LP, too

Living up to Undeath’s well-deserved stellar live reputation, 2022’s accompanying Live… From The Grave captures the ferocious energy of a death metal show at its finest.

Alex: The live album all came together very naturally. We were on tour with Dying Fetus, and for that tour we didn’t have a sound guy, but for the show in Sauget, Illinois we were able to poach Dying Fetus’ sound guy who left us with a really high-quality recording of the show. We were just sitting on this recording and decided to make the most of it – we thought it would be a good stop-gap in between studio albums. Personally, I love live albums – you can’t beat a great metal live record, like what Cannibal Corpse have done. We wanted to contribute to the great catalogue of metal live albums out there.”

8They’re also hilarious goofballs on social media

Making memes and unashamedly taking the piss out of themselves, Undeath’s life online is anything but a carefully-crafted marketing strategy…

Alex: “It’s funny, because I run our social media, but I don’t really think about it at all. A lot of the time, I wish I didn’t have to do it! It basically boils down to me posting a dumb meme if we haven’t put anything up for a while, or just putting up a self-deprecating joke or taking the piss out of ourselves. It can be frustrating, because when we do post useful information about shows we’re playing or records for sale, the engagement can be pretty small, but then I’ll post a fart joke and people will lose their minds! Whether that speaks to the algorithm or just what our fans’ priorities are, I don’t know, but I’m fine either way, because we’re just winging everything in that regard and doing it off-the-cuff. If people happen to respond positively, then that’s great.”

9They’re making Crocs metal. No, not crocodiles. Crocs. You know, the shoes

As soon as Kerrang! mentions Undeath’s unlikely favourite brand of footwear, Kyle enthusiastically fetches a pair to show off to us. Alex, meanwhile, details the story behind the iconic shoe accessories which band and fans alike went bonkers for.

Alex: “Above all else, we are enthusiastic Crocs supporters! There’s a lot of talk on the internet these days about selling out and corporate involvement in music, and we don’t need to get deep into that discussion, but all I’ll say is this: if the Crocs corporation ever wants to sponsor us and give us money to rep the brand, well, we’re already doing it! We wear Crocs 24/7, so let’s get paid for it! We sold some Crocs charms as merch thanks to an idea someone we work with had. We’d just done a tour with The Black Dahlia Murder where we were rocking Crocs onstage, and in doing so we’d inadvertently made it part of the Undeath brand identity. Then our guy hit us up and told us we could get a good deal on our version of these things called Jibbitz, which is the name for the charms. So we just did it, got 500 of them, and people couldn’t believe it.”

10They’re not slowing down anytime soon

With plans well underway for their next album, Undeath promise there’s much to look forward to when it comes to the future of the band…

Alex: “As soon as we finish this interview, we’re off to practice some of the material for the next album. We’ve got a lot in the works that we can’t talk about yet, but I will say we’ve got a very busy 14 months ahead of us. There’s a new album to record and a huge amount of touring planned for before, during and after it, starting in October when we come to the UK with Municipal Waste. Undeath are going to be at it nonstop from that point – we’ll be everywhere.”

It’s Time… To Rise From The Grave is out now via Prosthetic Records. Undeath tour the UK in October with Municipal Waste and GEL, and play Damnation in November. This article originally appeared in the autumn 2023 issue of the magazine.

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