02. The Horsemen Arrive In The Night
03. Solar Eye
04. Adversaries Mask 1
05. Adversaries Mask 2
06. The Tesla Effect
07. Sleeping While They Feast
08. Submerged Metropolis
10. Physical Universe Distorts
11. Into A Chasm
12. The Levelling
2010 Relapse Records
In this increasingly volatile world of ours, it's comforting to know that at least one thing isn't going to change any time soon – the quality of new Unearthly Trance releases. The band's immense brand of doom metal has cemented them among the elite of the genre, and that massive sound has never been more punishing than on their fifth album, simply titled V. So if Unearthly Trance is the only investment you choose to pursue, I can guarantee that you'll be sleeping easy for years to come.
Now, one of the keys to Unearthly Trance's consistency is their ability to significantly alter their song-writing approach, but without sacrificing their immediately recognizable style. When listening to V, you'll instantly notice that it doesn't fit the template established by the band on their previous two records, fan favorites The Trident and Electrocution. The faster, thrashier sections have been completely abandoned in favour of a steady, minimalist drone. Most of the tracks here are built around mammoth power chords underlined by pounding drum beats, but a huge variety of complementing sounds dispel any notions of monotony. For instance, the two part "Adversaries Mask" sees the band experimenting with acoustic guitars in part one, as well as some crushing electronics and atmospherics in part two. When coupled with these more experimental passages, huge hooks like the psychedelic flares in "The Horsemen Arrive In The Night" (which might call to mind the movement being popularized by bands like Baroness) and the straight-forward melodic riffs and solo in "Unveiled" really drive home the fact that the music here is anything but one-dimensional. Suffice it to say, whatever your preferred flavor of sludge/doom metal might be, you will find something that appeals to your tastes somewhere on this record.
As if the vast array of instrumental styles used on the record wasn't enough to pique your interest, a similarly stellar vocal performance by Ryan Lipynsky is also competing for your attention; somehow, he never fails to deliver consistent tracks as ridiculously heavy as the instrumental ones underneath them. Generally, he employs a tortured harsh vocal tone that wouldn't sound of place in a range of genres extending anywhere from funeral doom to hardcore. He also tries his hand at some bellowed vocals (ala newer Celtic Frost) to varying degrees of effectiveness. The only place on the record where his vocals and lyrics misfire is during the opening minutes of Adversaries Mask 1; his brooding lyrics about blood-drinking kings kind of get buried underneath the din of distortion in this particular instance. Luckily, this happens very infrequently, and overall, he effortlessly outperforms nearly every other vocalist in the sludge and doom metal genres, many of whom are often unable to emerge from beneath the weighty instrumental contributions.
Bottom Line: This is a beast of a record folks. At its simplest, it absolutely pummels you from every direction, instrumentally and vocally, and at its most complex, this relentless heaviness is coupled with sounds and styles borrowed from a variety of genres, resulting in a truly engaging experience. Other bands should start seriously considering taking notes when Unearthly Trance releases a record; blending this level of heaviness and replay value over a full hour-long record is truly an impressive accomplishment from a band that already has very little left to prove.