Album: UNDEAD GODS
Genre: Metal/Progressive Metal
Record label: Independent
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Album length: 38 Minutes
Theoptia’s “UNDEAD GODS” is a relentlessly heavy concept album that explores various false pagan gods and the price of following them both directly and indirectly.
The press release for the album lists Gojira, Lamb of God, and Meshuggah as influences and those are easily heard, but the band does a great job of sitting inside those influences while also crafting something all their own. You’re still going to find all of the things that fans of those mentioned bands love here on this album: mosh-inducing syncopated riffs, head-banger-friendly grooves, and melodic breaks to inspire a bit of awe in the listener. The vocals tend to stay in a lower-register death metal style but everything is clear enough to understand the lyrics. There are some other vocal styles on display though as well including one very nice clean vocal section near the end of “Adonis”. As a big fan of Meshuggah I enjoy the album the most when the band is grinding it out in similar territory but really everything here is heavy and solid.
One unique thing about this album is the interesting use of middle-eastern sounding instruments and melodies. It’s really what first caught my ear on first listen and it helps to set the tone for the subject matter at hand.
Everyone’s performance on the album is great, with Emanuel Strebel handling the bulk of the vocals, guitar, and bass work, but he’s assisted by Samuel Ruprecht handling bass on some tracks, and by Raphael Brunner’s excellent drumming. Everyone is in lock-step musically and the band keeps things air-tight. There are also a number of guest appearances here including guest guitar solos by Wolfgang Nillies from Sacrificium, and Peter Watson of Elephant Watchtower. The production here is also very good, everything sounds great, punchy, and clear.
Another interesting note about the album is that the songs were written and presented for a class called ‘Theologie, Kunst und Anbetung in der Praxis’ at Theologisches Seminar St. Chrischona which as best as my translation can tell is a Seminary in Switzerland.
While the subject matter is definitely interesting, especially in the indictment of modern culture in the face of these pagan gods, I would personally welcome something a little more redemptive lyrically, but that’s my persnickety opinion. In the press release Emanuel makes it a point to say “I would not dare to market my music as ‘Christian’, since it’s so much more than just that. It is meant for everybody, especially the ones that feel lost in life, regardless of their beliefs.”, and clearly his aims are on display here which is to display the dark things to be found in these idols, but an actual Gospel message isn’t on clear display here, though perhaps its seen when you read through the lines.
UNDEAD GODS is a great heavy album regardless, expertly performed, and it’s easy to see that a great deal of work and thought went into making it. Definitely recommended to fans of the bands mentioned earlier in the review or fans of any kind of crushing metal.