UNDER AEGIS – Single Review: “Separate”

UNDER AEGIS is a badass progressive djent metalcore band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who I’ve been following since their early days in 2016. Their brutal, take no prisoners sound, forged from explosive guitars, buzzsaw bass lines, speaker-blowing drums and fearsome vocals, is a full-frontal assault on the senses, while their biting, often provocative lyrics are in-your-face, yet highly relatable. Since their formation, UNDER AEGIS has experienced a couple of changes in vocalists, and the formidable lineup now consists of Carl Martin on vocals, Bao Vo on guitar, and brothers Avery Gaitens on bass and Parker Gaitens on drums.

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Photos by Kelley Curran

I’ve reviewed most of their music, beginning with their debut EP [Extinct] in 2016, followed by the scathing singles “Sedated” in August 2017, and “Point Blank” in March 2018. (You can check out those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the bottom of this page.) Now they’ve returned with a face-melting new single “Separate“, along with a violent but visually stunning video. The song is the first single from their forthcoming album Desolate, due out later this year.

About the song’s meaning, Carl Martin told the webzine The Noise, “I went through the darkest time of my life while in the process of writing these new songs. Each and every part has an intense emotional connection while in the midst of a performance. ‘Separate’ represents the desperation I felt to avoid people affecting my sanity over the course of a long period of time.” Thus the opening lyric “Separate yourself from those who bring you pain. Separate yourself. And fall into the weightlessness above”, which Martin sings in beautiful, clean vocals, accompanied by sweeping cinematic synths and Vo’s melodic guitar notes.

Suddenly, the song explodes into a thunderous maelstrom of tortured riffs, crushing bass and shattering percussion, and Martin turns into a rampaging beast, savagely screaming his bitter contempt: “You let me go the wrong fucking way! And I will never live life the same. Why don”t you show me the path to hell so I can forget your name? It’s time to make up my mind again. And rip out the heart of your lies!” Vo continues to blow our minds and eardrums with his furious shredding action while the Gaitens brothers keep the turbulent rhythm section going at full blast. These guys tear the mutherfucking roof off the sucker, and are among the best metalcore musicians around today, in my not so humble opinion.

The bloody but brilliantly filmed – and well-acted, I must say – video depicts the story of what appears to be a drug or some other deal gone terribly wrong, interspersed with footage of the band performing the song. In his discussion with The Noise about the band’s vision for the video, Martin explained, “The music video ties into the theme of the lyrics to an extent. Associating yourself with the wrong people leads to unfortunate circumstances. The bullet and near-death experience is a representation of reinventing yourself as an individual. On the other hand, Avery’s character represents bad decisions that catch up with you. The question is, ‘what’s in the bag?’ You will have to watch our next video to find out.”

Watch the intense video and prepare to be amazed by both the song and visuals:

Catch Under Aegis at one of these upcoming shows:
SAT JUNE 8 – X RAY ARCADE BAR, w/Oceano, The Cambion, Angelmaker, Cudahy, WI
SAT JUNE 29 – UNDER AEGIS @ SUMMERFEST, Milwaukee, WI
SAT AUGUST 10 – EDENFEST 2019, w/I Killed Everyone, Wausau, WI

Connect with Under Aegis:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

UNDER AEGIS – Single Review: “Point Blank”

UNDER AEGIS is a phenomenal Progressive Djent Metal band who kick ass and take no prisoners. Their brutal sound – forged from explosive guitars, buzzsaw bass lines, speaker-blowing drums and fierce vocals – is a full-frontal assault on the ears, while their provocative lyrics call out societal evil, hypocrisy and bullshit. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based foursome released their monumental EP [Extinct] in 2016, followed by the scathing single “Sedated” in August 2017, both of which I reviewed on this blog. They’ve now dropped a brand new single “Point Blank,” delivering more of their signature face-melting metalcore we’ve come to expect.

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Photos by Luke Steffens

Along with their new single, UNDER AEGIS also has a charismatic new vocalist Carl Martin (who also mixed the track).  He sounds amazing whether he’s aggressively singing and rapping in clean vocals or ferociously screaming guttural metalcore. Rounding out the band lineup are the talented original members Bao Vo on guitar, and brothers Avery Gaitens on bass and Parker Gaitens on drums.

The powerful track is brutal yet melodic, with relentless wailing riffs and Avery’s bone-crushing bass providing a fitting backdrop for Carl’s furious vocals. Through it all, we hear Bao’s eerily beautiful recurring guitar riff that seems to rise out of the maelstrom, while Parker pummels his drum kit with all the strength he can muster. The three minute fifteen second long track leaves us drained but still wanting more. It’s awesome.

My take on the song’s meaning is that we’re all brain-dead and living a hopeless existence in a dystopian society fed a steady diet of pernicious misinformation and thought-control. Carl snarls and growls the bleak lyrics:

The only plan that will meet our demand is when we don’t exist.
Our lives are staged, stuck in a cage.
Projecting conscience in our brains.
When will you begin to conceive it as fake? Everyone is the enemy.
Point blank to the side of our head
they pull the trigger but they didn’t know we’re already dead.
Sweet dreams when they fill us with lead
I’d rather die alone than live with regret.
No life is the ultimatum when you follow in the trail of misinformation.
Every opportunity becomes an altercation, but according to the facts on foreign relations,
It’s inevitable that we can’t change the way the world sways upon the main stage,
and they don’t really give a fuck what we say
they can have the world and we’ll take the day.
Cut the fucking strings, the operation of change is in motion.
So take a shot at me point blank and watch expression leave my face.
I’ve always wanted to escape this fucking place.
Dissemination’s upon us, we live a lie, it’s larger than a nation.
Point blank to the side of our head
they pull the trigger but they didn’t know we’re already dead, so fuck it.

Connect with Under Aegis:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify or Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

UNDER AEGIS – Single Review: “Sedated”

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Under Aegis is a Progressive Djent Metalcore band with a lot to say. Their brutal in-your-face music – born from generous amounts of crushing bass, explosive guitars, speaker-blowing drums and fierce vocals – bulldozes a path of sonic destruction. At the same time, their blistering lyrics call out societal evil, hypocrisy and bullshit. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based foursome includes Nik Dennee on vocals, Bao Vo on guitar, and brothers Avery Gaitens on bass and Parker Gaitens on drums.

Last May I reviewed their outstanding EP [Extinct], which you can read here. In August they released a powerful new single “Sedated,” a scathing, full-frontal assault on the current state of affairs in the U.S. of A. It’s a monumental track, and a bit of a departure from the band’s usual music style. While still featuring their signature fearsome riffs, buzzsaw bass lines and jackhammer drums, it’s more melodic, with a healthy injection of hip-hop. Though he still screams many of his vocals in the metalcore style, Dennee also raps quite a bit, making for a track of greater complexity and impact. I really like it, and think it’s their best song yet.

Their incredibly hard-hitting and provocative lyrics attack the corrupt, greedy and tyrannical forces in our society – whether it be our government and political leaders, the media, or big corporations – all working to control our lives, take away our freedoms and sedate us into compliance and blind resignation.

Welcome to the individual, digital, subliminal, criminal, imminent dawn of the new age. It’s time to wake up, open our eyes, and realize that our lives are at stake if we hesitate.
They seek to control and manipulate.
Fuck that, my life they will never take.
But at the end of the day if you had a chance, if you had a way to attack would you fight back?
You chose to insult our intelligence.
We’ll respond with nothing but malevolence.
All your “search and seizures” with no evidence.
All of your power took all precedence.
We have been tranquilized, victimized, weaponized, demoralized.
They continue to operate away behind closed doors and away from our prying eyes.
And they continue to destroy our lives.
One by one, our world dies as theirs fucking thrives.
And truth be told, your only worth your weight in gold.
Land of the free? Don’t make me fucking laugh.
Destroying our lives and gaining profit.
Death to your prophet.
No matter the cost.
Freedom is lost.
It’s time to wake up.
And let me spare, you the people, another fucking hypocrite
I’m here to tell you how the shit really is.
In this land of unequal opportunity we are always coming face to face with tyranny.
Self treason no matter the season.
You justify arrests with no plausible reason.
Take a stand and react and see the facts.
There’s no fucking way out there’s no turning back.
No. Take a step back and look around.
You will see the facts.
There is no turning back. There is no turning back.
Here is the truth, can you handle it?
I pledge allegiance to nothing. So fuck you.
We will not fail. That’s what they expect from us.
We will prevail. That’s what they will get from us.
We will not fail. No. We will prevail.
All of this hate it must mean something.
I pledge allegiance to nothing.
Here is the truth, can you handle it.
They want us all sedated.
They want us all sedated.
Low doses from the red, white, and blue.

Follow Under Aegis: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube

Purchase: Bandcamp / iTunes

UNDER AEGIS – EP Review: “[Extinct]”

Under Aegis is a Progressive Djent Metalcore band with a lot to say. Their brutal in-your-face sound, born from generous amounts of crushing bass, explosive guitars, speaker-blowing drums and ferocious vocals, bulldozes a path of sonic destruction. At the same time, they launch a frontal assault on societal evil, hypocrisy and bullshit with their violent but compelling lyrics.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin based foursome includes Nik Dennee on vocals, Bao Vo on guitar, and brothers Avery Gaitens on bass and Parker Gaitens on drums. In December 2016, they released their hard-hitting EP [Extinct] (two years after their debut EP The Narcissist). We’ve followed each other on Twitter for more than a year, and I’m finally getting around to featuring them on this blog.

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[Extinct] confronts a dystopian world where violence, corruption and despair reign. The opening track “Apex Predator” sets the tone with a full-blown attack on every one of our senses. Avery lays down a bass line so intense you can feel it pounding against your chest, while Bao shreds and distorts his guitar nearly to the breaking point. With his jackhammer drums working in tandem with the crushing bass, Parker seems intent on blowing out the speakers – or our eardrums! Nik growls and screams the lyrics like a rampaging T-Rex: “I am a savage fucking beast at the prime of my killing spree. Brutal. Savage. Controlled by instinct. I always wondered what fed this thirst. Pull yourself together. You won’t feel a god damn thing.”

Unbelievably, the band somehow manages to dial up the intensity on “Born Sick.” The drums and bass are even heavier, and by now I’m certain my head’s gonna explode. The lyrics seem to be about the belief that man is born cursed with original sin, and in a continuous struggle to make it through life in one piece. Nik unleashes his fury as he screams “It’s never safe to say that tomorrow is another day. Live and learn and love and respect, because every breath you take is just another fucking side effect. I’m lost, an empty shell, living in fear.” 

Invective” speaks to someone contemplating taking their own life as a way out from dealing with their problems. “You said you’d give anything for a good night’s sleep. Now you have found a solution not so temporary. You’re a fucking coward taking the easy road to eternity. Listen close, no need to be nervous. Just relax it’s only self disposal. Every tragedy begins with a simple idea. You fucking coward. You worthless waste of fucking flesh. Why don’t you close the door. Roll up your fucking window. And just fucking give up.” The track has some seriously good guitar work, and Nik comes close to tearing his vocals chords to shreds as he whips himself into a vocal frenzy.

There’s no letup to the sonic onslaught on “Total Void,” a depressing song about the futility of life in a dystopian society: “We’re all born with broken bones. Suspended, hanging from a rope. So just lose all fucking hope! The ground is breaking beneath us. Sanity controls us. The ground is breaking behind us. Be free and follow me into nothing. Losing your mind could be the end of your struggle.

Nomad” is the most melodic and, at nearly five minutes, longest of the tracks on the EP.  It starts off with a mysterious guitar riff, then heavy percussion and bass ensue, accompanied by layers of shredded and distorted guitars. Nik passionately screams the lyrics that speak to man’s eternal search for meaning and purpose on an earth that’s increasingly being degraded by his own selfish actions:  “All the lines that we used to know they have all been crossed. In this world nothing is fair. No one belongs anywhere, We are all thieves. Searching for our piece of this rotten world long that has been long deceased. Overgrown cities, self absorbed drones. I’m not a miracle, I’m a walking crime scene. Outline me in chalk. Write my obituary.

Under Aegis demonstrate with [Extinct] that they are not only amazing musicians, they’re also adept at writing deeply powerful, relevant lyrics that speak to social and personal upheaval. Bao told me they’re now working on new songs that will address political and governmental issues, and I can’t wait to hear them.

Follow Under Aegis:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram

Stream their music:  YouTube /  Spotify

Purchase:  Bandcamp /  iTunes