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New York's Unearhtly Trance once again deliver the goods, but in a style thats far from expected considering their doom/drone backround.
Following the less than spectacular 'In the Red', the band have persued an interesting and striking change in sound, turning their back on prolonged drones and repeating riffs for minutes on end. Instead, what we get is a tight, cold and hard form of grim hardcore, bringing to mind the faster and punchier songs of their earlier albums like 'Wandering Winter Winds' and 'Penta(grams)'.
Their impressive debut showed the group have the ability to retain attention with relatively simple songs totally seeped in darkness such as 'Raised by Wolves', but the distracted, psycholdelic vibe found on 'In the Red' has obviously been culled by the members. Now presented to the listener is a harsh vista of fast, punchy death-Neurosis numbers like 'Wake up and Smell the Corpses', coupled with slower atmospheric numbers like 'Firebrand' and 'Permenant Ice'. The sheer cold vibe felt throughout the album is more pronounced than some Black Metal, with the vocals audibly shivering under the weight of spreading , despondant waves of distortion.
Its a welcome change, showing the band are still more than capable of delivering metal that both demands and deserves your attention.
First off, I haven't heard much of this bands previous output. But from what I remember, it didn't sound all that great to me. Nothing in particular stands out in my mind, just long droning songs, with some more up-tempo parts and flat production. Hmmph. Ok.
On the relapse debut however, this band sounds totally different then what I remembered. The production is a lot better than on the previous releases. There's a lot more depth to the drums, and indeed, I remember seeing pictures of the band in the the studio and it was a Large, open, airy looking, brick building. So it has a very natural and warm sound. The drums that it. The guitar tone is trebly, and wouldn't sound out of place on a black metal album. The Bass isn't very prominent in the mix either, which makes this un-doom like in that respect. Lack of bottom end would seem detrimental to a doom band, but in this case, I don't mind because I can't really call this a pure doom album anyway.
The first few songs are mostly mid-tempo and reminiscent (IMO) of Celtic Frost. Not bad at all, but I must ask in my best Clara Peller impression "Where's the Doom?" Things start to slow down by track 5, 'Scarlet', which is probably the doomiest song on the album. A great droning start, with good build-up and atmosphere, to a crashing climax. After that there’s 'Wake Up and Smell The Corpses' featuring some GREAT 'D-Beat' style drumming that makes me want to jump and smash things. D-Beat will do that to you. At midpoint in the song it slows down, in a great use of dynamics and pummels you like a giant driving nails into a boulder. This goes on for about a minute before going back into D-Beat mode. At the end it slows down again, and features what sound like keyboards (?) in a non fruity and gay way. Next song is another conventionally doomy track. The good thing about the songs is that they're not overly long, which can bore and or alienate some listeners. The longest song, the aforementioned 'Scarlet' is only 7:05 minutes, yet it seems like a mini-epic. All the slower songs on this album sound like mini-epics with lost of change ups. The last song on the album ‘Where The Unbelievable Is Ordinary’ The band justifies it’s ‘Noise’ description in the line up notes. It’s noise, and drums and spoken distorted vocals. Ooooooh spooky.
Someone referenced mid-era Neurosis as a comparison for Unearthly Trance on this album. As I have not heard any Neurosis post 'The Word As Law' I can not comment. Take from that what you will. I personally hear Celtic Frost in the mid-paced moments, and well some (good) doom band in the slow parts.
If you were turned off UT's earlier albums because of crap production or whatever, you might like this. I personally don't see my self listening to it often, but it's definitely a solid listen.