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Unearthly Trance - "V" (CD)

Unearthly Trance - "V" CD cover image

"V" track listing:

1. Unveiled (7:03)
2. The Horsemen Arrive in the Night (3:14)
3. Solar Eye (6:50)
4. Adversaries Mask 1 (4:21)
5. Adversaries Mask 2 (2:53)
6. The Tesla Effect (3:48)
7. Sleeping While They Feast (4:55)
8. Submerged Metropolis (6:06)
9. Current (3:15)
10. Physical Universe Distorts (3:43)
11. Into a Chasm (4:43)
12. The Leveling (7:26)
13. Untitled (0:55)

Reviewed by on January 20, 2011

"Unearthly Trance taps the same weird cosmic energy as that of Burning Witch, where riffs can be at a crawling minimalist pace or pushing blatant repetition and yet still seem interesting."

Unlike many fresh faced appearances on my review pile, Unearthly Trance was a sludge/doom brute that I had already caught wind of through metal circles. Due to the influx of mediocre-but-in-no-way-bad sludge bands, it's fairly easy to roll your eyes at another one, but if you're a fan of either genre Unearthly Trance has put out another album that should be on your "to check out" list.

While carefully following in the trails of Melvins, Eyehategod and other now legendarily heavy bands, the tempo on "V" pushes things towards doom metal for the majority of the album, swinging heavy and low and with touches of Celtic Frost inspiration. Riff oriented listeners should have no fear, as minor key melodies keep the album from being just another atonal sludge quagmire or drone album. The sludge elements come through strongly in the vocals with a deep gnarled rasp, strong spoken section and lyrics on whatever abstract mess is at hand keeping things familiarly sludgey.

Past this, there's nothing terribly interesting to talk about. Seriously. "V" flirts as close as possible to "just another sludge/doom" album as you can get, except it always goes just that extra mile with all the details that matter. The riffs are heavier. The production is spot on. Unearthly Trance taps the same weird cosmic energy as that of Burning Witch, where riffs can be at a crawling minimalist pace or pushing blatant repetition and yet still seem interesting. Likewise, there's plenty of ambient landscapes thrown across the full length like a sudden rainfall, but it all sneaks in without igniting the "skip this track" signal in your brain. Hypnotically engaging song writing keeps "V" in check, though there are clearly some creative barriers yet to be broken by Unearthly Trance before they escape the genre cliches they've mastered.

Highs: A solid debut, with engaging riffs that nearly always surpass the mediocre.

Lows: Still plenty of "been here heard that" elements of similar dissonant doom-mongers.

Bottom line: Won't convert a single sludge metal skeptic, but for others this is the best introduction to a band that already has various doomsters in a trance.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)