Unearthly Trance - V
Relapse Records
Sludge Metal
13 songs (59:18)
Release year: 2010
Unearthly Trance, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Goat

The fifth album in ten years from these New York-based Sludge merchants doesn’t see many changes in the band’s sound from 2008’s Electrocution. Unearthly Trance still preach misery and torment, with the shrieking vocals of frontman Ryan Lipynsky as unnerving as ever, and so deep and gloomy is the album that the whole thing is slow and crawling, as Doom as possible. Not unusual for a Sludge band, true, but Unearthly Trance fans will recall moments on their previous albums where the band burst into a hurried, calamitous speed that worked wonderfully in contrast with the shorter sections. Here, it’s all about the lack of pace, which may annoy some and has already seen the band given reviews that call V a disappointment. Yet no real Doombah could find this crushing unhappiness a real disappointment, so intense and heartfelt is the darkness that comes pouring out. As with two of the members’ former project, atmospheric shamans Thralldom, the misery and hatred is absolutely written into the music – yet this is far more traditional in Doom style than its boundary-lacking predecessors.

And it’s that, really, which will make me now repeat a comment that I made in my review of Electrocution – 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. They do make nasty music, but music quite clearly built on a Doom base, the stone foundations of which are always visible through the bleak fog. The ominous opening grooves of Unveiled are fantastic, initially distant backing vocals secondary to the guitars as the track builds up and Ryan gets more and more furious – throughout the album, his performance is excellent. It’s all about the riffs, however, and it’s as a guitarist that Lipynsky really shines – the sheer weight of kickass riffage is practically elephantine. The horrified droning of The Horsemen Arrive In The Night, like Leviathan-era Mastodon zombified, or the crashing hammer blows of Solar Eye – wherever you look, Celtic Frost’s influence shines through, never a bad thing.

Yet it’s not a constant wave of crashing darkness. The melancholic soloing on Submerged Metropolis, for example, is a moment of curious melody amidst the gloom. Adversaries Mask 1 starts with subtlety and singing, before the grumpy arrives with noisy feedback in Adversaries Mark 2, whilst there’s a touch of ambience to Sleeping Whilst They Feast’s grumpy slow-mo tantrum. As a whole, however, the focus is on the heaviness of the likes of Current, where melody is a by-product rather than the intention. And Unearthly Trance are nothing if not heavy! As a whole, I prefer the band’s past albums for variety and instantaneous Doom action, but it’s hard to really criticise an album which so sums up what Doom’s all about – slow, heavy, misery.

Killing Songs :
Unveiled, The Horsemen Arrive In The Night, Submerged Metropolis, Current
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Unearthly Trance that we have reviewed:
Unearthly Trance - Electrocution reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
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