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The Unravelling - "Thirteen Arcane Hymns" (CD)

The Unravelling - "Thirteen Arcane Hymns" CD cover image

"Thirteen Arcane Hymns" track listing:

1. Move Forward Until You Are Dead
2. Becoming Chaos
3. Fire Breather
4. Open skull
5. Last Rights Protest
6. Revived
7. Unscripted Disclosure
8. In The Safe House
9. Where Will it End?
10. Disconnect -- Connect
11. My Resignation
12. Arjuna
13. Victory Song

Reviewed by on August 20, 2010

"...a nicely odd mixture of a metal album that is both ass-kicking and meditative."

Calgary, Canada’s twosome of Gustavo De Beauville and Steve Moore has come up with a nicely odd mixture of a metal album that is both ass-kicking and meditative with “Thirteen Arcane Hymns.” They are the owners of a unique sound best identified as a clouded mixture of Novembre, Dead Can Dance, Nevermore, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Opeth. What’s strange about this is that it’s such a well-developed sound for a debut album to have.

Listening to the album is like being in a pure trance while a violent war is happening all around you. While the rhythm guitars of Gustavo De Beauville create soundscapes from effects-laden layers of clean guitar and ethereal distorted guitar, the talented drumming of Casey Lewis hits hard and the powerful vocals of Steve Moore provide the emotional touch to make a profound mix. The album concept starts out with the theme of being buried alive and moves on to crawling out and moving forward. The first track, “Move Forward Until You Are Dead” is a powerful opening to the album, leading into an intensely philosophical tune, “Becoming Chaos.” “Fire Breather” lurches onward in a style reminiscent of early Lacuna Coil with haunting effected vocals.

“Open Skull,”“Last Rights Protest,” and “Where Will It End?” all pummel out statements of disobedience with plenty of aggression and driving rhythms. These songs are two of the most mosh-pit-worthy songs on the album. Moore yells out, “No, No more offerings, apologies. No, No more accepting defeat, bowing before belligerency.” Moore’s vocal styles vary from gravelly and biting to profound and melodic, much like a more emotionally connected Warrell Dane type of singing mixed with screams and yells that really do the lyrics justice.

“Revived” has an apocalyptic rhythm section in the middle of waves of soul-searching melodies and lyrics. The guitar work on the album as a whole moves from song to song and section to section without breaking theme or flow. This is effective in maintaining the kind of atmosphere they wanted the music to have. Moving forward in the album, songs like “In The Safe House,” “My Resignation,” and “Arjuna” have almost sacred atmospheres to them due to the concentration on theme and use of Eastern-themed subject matter.

The Unravelling has made a surprising firebomb of an album here. If you are listener who likes to get enveloped in songs rather than simply listen, there is much to experience here. The production, thanks to the talents of producer Casey Lewis and Echo Base Studios, is very flattering. The guitars seem to glow, the vocals are full and charged, the drums are clean and pronounced but not overly produced, and the overall mix is very listenable for metal. This first album is a statement that The Unravelling is capable and ready to bring new heights to melodic metal.

Highs: Production values, melodic movement, creative instrument parts, and great flow of the songs.

Lows: The lyrics are impersonal and philosophical, sometimes mystical, and would be emotionless, were it not for Steve Moore's vocal style.

Bottom line: Cathartic vocals carrying philosphical weight on top of a melodic beast of a brooding rhythm section, and enough talent to go around on all instruments, makes this a monstrous debut album.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)