While there were a number of things to like in the mid 1990s from 2nd wave Black Metal and DREAM THEATER to models that didn't look like 2 dimensional cut-outs with breast implants, there was also a good amount that would better be left behind in said decade. Circa 1994, the name of the game was Groove, and everybody was getting their PANTERA on, including a lesser known but highly respectable Thrash turned Death Metal band from Switzerland called MESSIAH. Having just lost a competent vocalist and finding themselves in a very different musical landscape, they did the 2 logical things that any of us would do in order to keep our record deal, namely hire a really shitting Phil Anselmo knock-off (in this case the acclaimed man of THERION Christofer Johnsson) and dumb down their sound to something that has a faint semblance of EXHORDER circa 1992 just like PANTERA did on "Vulgar Display Of Power", only with a guitarist that has about half the competence as the soloist that Dimebag Darrell did.
To give credit where credit is due, Remo Broggi actually enters into the soul-destroying Groove contract with a fair degree of reluctance, occasionally opting for a riffing approach that somewhat resembles a thrashing character, though with a bit more of a Speed Metal character. The title song "Underground" actually manages to be mildly reminiscent of a "Fistful Of Metal" meets "Feel The Fire", though the extremely poor gruff vocals tend to ruin any level of power present in the instrumental battery. Likewise, "The Way Of The Strong" has some elements of a sort of Punk-driven character laced with a few remnants of the largely discarded Death Metal character that characterized their work with Andy Kaina a few years prior, literally to the point that the current flunky actually tries to impersonate the Schuldiner growls that dominated "Choir Of Horrors" and "Rotten Perish", though without much success and often slipping back into his weak Anselmo yell.
Much of the rest of this sorry little attempt at commercial pandering finds itself in bizarre territory as Broggi continually tries to merge the extremely dull and uninspired groove character that was earning SIX FEET UNDER the distinction of most hated Death Metal band a few years after this came out with some elements of traditional Death/Thrash. The mixture of the two does not bode well, especially given that for some reason a lot of lyrics about Norse warfare comes into play (probably a latent influence from the mid 80s when Broggi was competing with Quorthon for the sickest extreme Thrash Metal sound), which makes for an extremely confusing listen. Fairly fast riffing frenzies suddenly find themselves caught in a groovy lull with hypnotic 2-3 note chugs or funky bass lines at half-tempo, all painted over with a really processed guitar tone that is all too similar to that of Dimebag's and some really lame attempts at guitar soloing that sound amateur compared to the occasional lead bursts that adorned earlier efforts. And then there's the goofy Punk meets "Fucking Hostile" with a dance groove disaster "The Ballad Of Jesus". Yeah, let's just forget that this shitstorm in a backwater Mexican restaurant ever happened.
Everyone from rabid completists to unsuspecting bargain bin hounds are encouraged to leave this abortion guising as an album in the dumper. It may not be the most terrible thing to come out of the mid 90s, but it's all too typical of that time period and extremely pathetic next to everything else that this respectable band put out. I have no idea how Christofer Johnsson and the same musicians who put together "Rotten Perish" found themselves here, but it was well and good that they didn't stay here, though unfortunately this proved to be the final nail in an otherwise respectable coffin. But hey, at least they didn't come back and besmirch their name even further the way CANCER did several years back.
(Online July 10, 2013)