British foursome Undersmile are notable for a few reasons. Probably first among them is that they have not one, but two guitarist/vocalist frontwomen — Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown — at the helm. Second, both sing, and trade off drawling stoner doom vocals for yelling sludge shouts. Third, they hit really, really hard. Listening to Undersmile‘s two tracks on their recent split with countrymen hardcore act Caretaker, even more than the sleepy vocals, it’s the punch the music packs that stands out. Tom McKibbin assaults his toms in the first part of “Big Wow,” setting a slow march, only to give way eventually to a faster groove, but either way, his kick drum feels like it’s taking the air out of your lungs.
Undersmile is rounded out by bassist Olly Corona-Brown, and on the split’s second extended cut, the 12:43 “Anchor,” his four strings follow the plodding start-stop course set by the guitars. “Anchor” ultimately takes a different path from its predecessor, veering into spooky minimalism and culminating in noisy oblivion instead of getting faster and then slowing back down, but shows nonetheless that Undersmile recognize their material is stronger when it moves in one direction or another, rather than just lumbering along. There’s still a considerable stomp to “Anchor,” but it’s dreamier and less outwardly aggressive, the guitars and vocals meshing in the second half like some nightmarishly-slowed ’90s throwback.
If you’re interested, Undersmile have the tracks up at their Bandcamp page and can be found on Thee Facebooks here. The split was released by Blindsight Records, whose page is here, and just in case you don’t feel like clicking any of those links (so much work!), here’s the player with Undersmile‘s tracks and Caretaker‘s:Tags: Blindsight Records, Oxfordshire, UK, Undersmile, Witney