Unearthly Trance - Electrocution
Relapse Records
Sludge Metal
8 songs (51:09)
Release year: 2008
Unearthly Trance, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat

As nasty as the Sludgier side of Doom can be, often it’s just a mildly annoyed rumble rather than the raging insanity that you’d expect from such a heavy genre. New Yorkers Unearthly Trance, here on their fourth full-length, set out to sound pretty damn cross indeed, and when you have a genre that is basically Doom plus Hardcore, there’s ample opportunity for an outpouring of wrath. What’s surprising with Electrocution is the extent to which the Hardcore influences are used. Vocalist Ryan Lipynsky, formerly of excellent sort-of-Black Metal shamans Thralldom, moves between a typically Doom singing voice (nothing high-pitched, thankfully) and a ‘Core snarl that will have less experienced Metalheads running for the comfort of their Trivium albums. Tracks such as Dust Will Never Settle are Punkish in design, downtuned riffs sounding like Discharge gone all Black Metal on us. Of course, it’s an acquired taste, but if you want more from your Doom than pathetic misery – if it’s actual thunderous misery that boils over and splashes those within reach with scalding hot fumes that you’re after, then you’ll love this.

Of course, this being Unearthly Trance there’s still plenty of weirdness, and the feedback-filled experimental section that closes the aforementioned Dust Will Never Settle proves that the band are taking as much influence from Melvins as they are from more traditional choices. And even if you don’t dig the punk or experimental sections of the song, there’s still a kickass riff and solo, Kerry King-like in its squalling, that fades the song out. Now, this may all sound like a dreadful mix, but after a couple of listens it truly makes sense. Few other bands could incorporate moments such as the Mastodon-esque opening to Diseased and get away with it, but Unearthly Trance make it look easy. It’s this kind of thing that makes Electrocution such an interesting listen; you literally have no idea where the band will take you next, and whilst they rarely step from the territory of Doom, it’s the ‘Core viciousness and Black Metal atmospherics that elevates this album above the competition.

When all is said and done, of course, as good an atmosphere as Doom can have it’s ultimately all about the riffs, and if there’s one thing that Electrocution has in buckets, it’s killer riffs. From the Tool-gone-Doom meanderings of the wonderfully-titled Scum Is In Orbit, to the almost Celtic Frosty 80s pounding of Religious Slaves, there’s more done with a guitar here than on your average Thrash album. Bassist Jay Newman provides a solid and, if anyone out there bothers listening to basslines for their own merits any more, varied backing, and I must give space to drummer Darren Verni, too, his complex and interesting stickswork being at just the right volume (the album has an excellent production) to hold your attention without stepping on the guitars.

As good as the shorter tracks are (no fillers here!) it’s the twelve-minute finale Distant Roads Overgrown that’s the prog-touched icing on the downtuned cake, initial almost melodic riffing opening up into a nasty Doom groove that’ll have you dancing and cowering in fear simultaneously; the quandary that all us ‘evil doomsters’ face when presented with headbanging opportunities such as this. Later the song turns almost Post-Rock in its path, and finishes with dark, swirling ambience.

If you like your riffum Sabbathi but draw the line at True Doom’s uglier, scarier, Sludgier cousin, then Unearthly Trance are your chance to change that. After all, it is rather like non-alcoholic beer or smoking without inhaling – why on earth would you want to do that? No, strip off, dive into that murky pool, and get down and dirty with one of the best Sludge albums released this year, as well as a milestone in quality for the band.

Killing Songs :
God Is A Beast, Dust Will Never Settle, Scum Is In Orbit, Religious Slaves, Distant Roads Overgrown
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Unearthly Trance that we have reviewed:
Unearthly Trance - V reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
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