Attempting to keep their heads afloat in a tide of death metal over saturation that was about to bury the shoreline in rotting, stinking corpses of varied careers, French Crusher released the Undermine EP in the year following their acceptable, but impregnable debut Corporal Punishment. It's much in the same style as that album, with a mix of old school death metal values, thrashing influence and a dash of grindcore extremity, the same mix of Napalm Death, Death, Bolt Thrower and Obituary. If anything, it's mixed at a slightly different level, and the low end mutes sound a little more forceful, but it's got the same deep, ominous tone.
There are seven tracks here, opening with a cool little industrial intro and then the crushing mosh of "Storm Brewing" and "Undermine", which flow with a nice, loud bass presence and some slightly more intricate groove riffing than one could have found on the band's debut. "Sell the Vatican's Wealth" ups the ferocity, with a storm of double bass that clearly could shake the walls down at any holy institution, and deep thrashing rhythms that evoke a violent reaction in the listener, under Crass's brutal, blood-soaked tones, which are louder here than the earlier release. "The Right to Be Different" is another concrete mix of thundering drums (this 'Charly' is on fire here), and it feels like it would have fit right in on Napalm Death's Harmony Corruption.
"In Your Face" gives you a nice, ample air raid warning before it clobbers you with yet more of the raging double bass and slow momentum of the grinding thrash rhythms. I actually feel that by this point of the EP, the band were starting to turn into a one-trick pony, and many of the originals sound precisely the same, with the brickhouse Obituary guitar tones and same rolling pace. A little more variety would have added value. "Hell on Earth" is a Discharge cover given an adequate, bruising treatment, and the closer "Man Submits" is at least a little faster than much of the other original writing on the album, though it has a pretty basic death breakdown.
Undermine is a reasonable extension of the band's debut album, with a more pronounced mix and arguably more engaging riffs, but it's not necessarily any more memorable, and the lack of dynamics does eventually catch up to the listener. If you were seeking to just have yourself clobbered by an aural equivalent of The Thing from Marvel comics, then certainly you could break this out alongside the Demolition Hammer and Napalm Death records, and probably fare pretty well. It's socially conscious Neanderthal metal that would have broken all the china at the local cafe, like a team of construction workers toiling underground at the Avenue des Champs Elysess, the noise of their labor erupting from a nearby manhole.
Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]