Unearthly Trance

The Trident

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On the jewel case of Unearthly Trance's The Trident, a sticker is prominently displayed that states "For fans of High on Fire, Bathory, Sunn 0))), and Electric Wizard." Hmmm. Last sonic check of the aforementioned acts revealed that the only thing they have in common is that they all use guitars, play really loud, and are associated with the metal genre. As for The Trident, it's Unearthly Trance's debut outing on Relapse that should tell the potential listener plenty. Musically, it's more like 2004's In the Red than 2003's Season of Séance, Science of Silence, but more diverse than either. At times, this set reaches far outside the doom subgenre; it frequently casts aside the extreme low-end frequencies of yore and seeks to offer more "songcraft" than any of its predecessors -- but is more decidedly death metal than anything else they've released. This time, Ryan Lipynsky's lyrics basically leave out the occult references he's become (in)famous for and delve into projected hatred of self and others. He's more in a death metal screaming voice than his powerful natural one (which is too bad), and the music here shifts tempos quite a bit. A standout cut on this platter is "The Air Exits/The Sea Accepts Me," with its repetitive, suffocating riffs, shifting meter, and squalling bass throb just under that abattoir where layers of distorto guitar and machine-shop drums exist. Also worth a serious listen is "Scarlet," with its faux "love song" theme and slowly gathering steam and dread over its seven minutes. It's doomy and gloomy, and Lipynsky sounds like an adolescent Ian Curtis in places until the pace revs up and all bloody hell breaks loose, taking the thing into the abyss with a malevolent hatred and rage that are simply delightfully frightening -- and hailing back in some sense to SoS, SoS -- given the concentration on über low frequencies and balls-out gut howl. The thrashy black metallic "Wake Up and Smell the Corpses" has as much to do with Slayer as it does to do with Bathory (though no fleeting guitar solos are here and there is a dynamic shift). With the exception of Lipynsky's voice staying too long in the black metal roaster, The Trident is a winner and another progression for a fine band that relentlessly seeks to foster that m.o.

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