COVER ARTWORK by ERSKINE DESIGNS
Recently, British-American rock/metal duo Underking unveiled two debut albums – ‘Ghosts Of The Past‘ & ‘Amongst The Dead‘ – and one of the members, Dustin Burmeister, went through every one of the tracks featured on the latter, in detail, with us:
‘NOTHING BUT BONE’
When I had first heard this song, I knew I wanted to take a more experimental approach with the lyrics then I really ever have with a song, nothing crazy, I just wrote from an interesting point of view.
I had explained this to Max, and while talking with him about it, I concluded I wanted to loosely describe a simple scene where, more or less, a man is walking along, and has the unfortunate luck of being abducted! Once that was decided, I began to write with that idea in mind.
I really enjoy how the song turned out, I think the song, instrumentally, is a banger, regardless of my vocals, and it was fun to kind of not only use this one to experiment lyrically, but vocally, as well.
At around 51 seconds or so, I come in with a southern yell-style of singing, if you will, which was something I hadn’t really done before, but for Max, I wanted to try and mix more than screaming into this song and throughout the project.
I feel like the song turned out great, and is a stand-out on the album. It’s definitely one of my favourites, and was a great choice for the first single release!
I wanted to orient this song around someone who had committed a crime, but one made in the name of another, revenge, I suppose you could say. In this case, a man was acting on emotions in response to an innocent dame who had been slain from a blade to the throat by a man of power who would surely get away with it.
The song lyrically follows him from the start of this story to him being on the run (hence the lyric “dead man walking“) to him coming to terms with this ordeal while riding on without fear, knowing he will fall yet believing what he’s done was the right thing.
‘Deadman‘ was the first song I heard and wrote to for ‘Amongst The Dead‘. It’s also the only song on the album I have a “love/hate” relationship with, by that, I mean I love the song musically, but writing to this one was a challenge because of how parted the song was constructed, and I just don’t feel like I really pinned down what I wanted lyrically, regardless of if I got the point across or not.
I honestly really do adore how the chorus bit turned out, though, with me screaming “Deadman” and what not, I really enjoy that whole part. I’m also just a very critical person when it comes to how I feel I should be, which is something I’ve learned to level with because being in a band is a team effort, so all opinions definitely matter!
I’ve also been told by a decent amount of people that they really enjoy the song, so again, it’s not that I am disappointed in this one or anything, I’m just a picky mofo! (laughs)
‘THE WAY OF MAN’
I’m one of looking at things from a lesser perspective, I guess that means I would rather read things out for what they are rather than cast a “pretty hue of colour” over things just to fool myself.
This is the vibe I more or less wanted to get across with this song, with the topic being war, sin, etc, mainly things we, as humans, tend to do that seem to have a more destructive after-effect, rather than a long-term peace-bringing one. We seem to fall down this endless cycle throughout our history.
Just like every one of these songs, they were written from my mind, with my opinions, so on and so forth, so I don’t mean to offend or anything like that, I appreciate and thank all those who serve in the name of our countries, but I feel we can all agree that while rather out of reach, we would like to obtain peace over destruction.
There’s a bit in the song where I kind of go on about someone who was full of life and had theirs ahead of them until the call came knocking, wherein they fall into the “cycle of conflict and combat“, and I feel like this part was intended to showcase how easily one’s life can change course and how completely out of your control that can be.
Again, I really like how this one turned out, it was a fun one to write, just like all of these songs were, with Max writing such solid songs. It’s definitely another one of my personal favourites off of the album, that’s for sure!
I think I may have stated in the past that these songs weren’t really written from a super-personal place, as in these lyrics aren’t necessarily coming from personal experiences and what not, BUT this one is a slight exception in the sense that we all either deal with or have dealt with some sort of “man on our back“, commanding and demanding expectations out of those “beneath” them, while maintaining that one thought in the back of your head, “One day, I’ll be on top, and where will YOU be?“, hoping to put that person in their place, or at the very least, give them a taste of their own medicine, so I would be lying if I said, while writing this, I wasn’t pulling emotion from personal experience.
Other than ‘Nothing But Bone‘, this one might have my favourite opening with the “Oh yeah” leading into the bridge where I come in with “CHAINED!“. I think this one also has the catchiest chorus with “Break your chains Mutt…” I often found myself repeating this in my head throughout the day and not even realising it sometimes because of just how easy it was to remember. I’m also happy with how the bridge turned out, very catchy bit, as well, leading into the final verse before the ending chorus.
This one was the second single we released from ‘Amongst The Dead‘, and I’m glad it managed to become labelled as a single, because I do think it does a good job of showing the diversity of the album.
‘Lost Souls‘ and ‘Gravedigger‘ just feel like big songs, and I’m glad we ended the album with them because of the lasting impression, I think, that they can leave, as well as both of them just conveying that darker tone both lyrically and instrumentally. These two are easily my top favourites, and I’m glad these didn’t end up becoming singles, for the simple fact that I was hoping to save the best for last.
I know I’ve gushed a lot over most of these songs as they all have bits and pieces I love, but these two songs, to me, are the fullest and most complete, and they really encase what I think Underking is musically.
‘Lost Souls‘ also has a killer solo by a local UK artist, Rainless, who just kills it here, as well as in ‘Deadman‘. I just overall am really proud of how they turned out, especially ‘Gravedigger‘, because I was able to get Max to sing along with me, really hammering home the project with us both monstering over the song.
Lyrically, they were both written with similar themes, and I feel like one compliments the other, which I think is the reason why I wanted to write my thoughts on them together other than them both being monstrous.
‘Lost Souls‘ mostly toys around with the ideas of death and the afterlife, while also the feeling of coming to terms with these “endgame” situations, expressing things like isolation and being condemned, whereas ‘Gravedigger‘ (which was not only vocally one by Max and I, but we teamed the lyrics here, as well) seems to kind of romanticises death while pushing away from the living, welcoming the consumption of the “deepest, darkest dread“.
The album ends with a clip of ‘THE‘ gravedigger digging away at the soil, endlessly, while the eerie tone of church bells rings on, slowly fading out. Who knows, maybe he is still digging?
All in all, Max hit a home run with these songs and just this whole thing, I’m just so happy and honoured to have had the chance to not only write lyrics, but scream for this project, as well. It was an awesome experience, and I’m looking forward to possibly working with Max later on down the road.
‘AMONGST THE DEAD’ – THE DEBUT ALBUM FROM UNDERKING – ALONG WITH ‘GHOSTS OF THE PAST’, IS AVAILABLE NOW, AND YOU CAN NOW FIND FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND BY CHECKING OUT OUR INTERVIEW WITH THEM HERE.