Unearthly Trance - V
Record Label: Relapse Records
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Unbridled doom: If I had to summarize the latest release from Long Island's Unearthly Trance in just two words, that would be it. The band's fifth full length and third Relapse release is an unnerving slab of mind-melting sludge. And like any doom outfit worth its salt, Unearthly Trance waste no time in clubbing the listener across the head with gigantic, thundering riffs that plow along like a steamroller right out of the mouth of Hell. Dense and atmospheric, but never dull or meandering, V is a prime example of doom metal at its finest. Grit and grime are abundant in the guitar tones; the drums and bass rattle and march in perfect tandem, creating a powerful backdrop to the hammering wall of distortion that emanates from the guitar work. In the middle of this electric hell storm are the urgent vocals of Ryan Lipynsky, who also acts as the band's guitarist. In the end, it all adds up to one hell of an album.
It's an unfortunate truth that for a good number of doom bands, redundancy is a persistent risk. Often a good album will be bogged down by one track too many (or in some cases, two minutes too many, depending on the song). It's even affected Unearthly Trance on previous albums, to varying degrees. However, this time around the group avoids all signs of boredom and slowly burns its way right through twelve sludge-doom jams that never let up. While certain songs like "Submerged Metropolis" or "The Leveling" probably could have stood to have a minute or two shaved off, it's not a glaring imperfection and can often be disregarded - unless one is in a particularly impatient mood. Minor complaints aside, there's not one song here that stands out as a blatant filler. Of course, on initial listens, some songs do tend to bleed together; that's something almost unavoidable on a doom metal release. But with repeated listens, each song becomes more and more defined, standing out on its own and not blending into the murky, distorted background.
Even though this isn't a perfect album, it's still a damn great one. Doom metal can be rather hit or miss, but thankfully, this album is all hit, no miss. Some tracks may hit harder than others. It doesn't detract from the crushing blow of doom metal this album delivers, though. There's nothing here that strays too far from any previous Unearthly Trance release, but if it's not broke, why bother fixing it? If anything, they've merely souped up an already well-oiled machine. Pounding bass and drums; bludgeoning guitars' panicked growls: This formula for destruction has always worked well for Unearthly Trance. But on V, it hits its peak, making for the band's finest release to date.