Album Review: Unearthly Trance – V

Characterised by its drawn-out ominous interludes, low-tuned guitars and uncompromising lack of pace, it goes without saying that doom metal is something of an acquired taste. What is considered by some to be a brilliantly haunting, larger-than-life sound is regarded by others as plain tedious, and in spite of its reasonably large following, the genre has generally resided somewhat under the radar throughout its history. With four studio albums over the past eight years already under their belts, New York trio Unearthly Trance have certainly been one of the most active doom metal bands of the decade, and given their status as relative veterans in their field, much is expected of the band’s fifth full-length offering, entitled ‘V’. There is no doubt that newcomers to Unearthly Trance will glean from the album that the band possess more than enough technical prowess and flair, but it is also safe to say that ‘V’ crucially suffers from a severe lack of consistent quality, which ultimately proves to be its downfall.

While ‘V’ is unquestionably impaired by a number of flaws, Unearthly Trance’s fifth album is by no means a disaster, and there is a wide range of positives to be taken from the release that doom metal enthusiasts will surely appreciate. For instance, the intensity and atmosphere that alUnearthly Trance V Artworkmost typifies this style of metal is not only in place, but is implemented with great effectiveness. This is apparent within an instant when opener ‘Unveiled’ creeps into life with frightening lethargy, its steady pace making for almost threatening listening. The ominous nature of the music on offer is maintained throughout, but Unearthly Trance’s capabilities as musicians also come to the fore on a number of occasions, both in terms of songwriting and technical skill. Guitarist Ryan Lipynsky is clearly talented when it comes to constructing riffs, as the relatively vibrant ‘The Tesla Effect’ and the sheer brutality of ‘The Horsemen Arrive In The Night’ unequivocally demonstrate, but his impressive soloing on ‘Solar Eye’ and the infectious ‘Submerged Metropolis’ proves that he is also proficient when faced with the more elaborate side of playing guitar. Drummer Darren Verni performs with a similar level of class, and if ‘Current’ is anything to go by, the tracks with slower pace appear to allow him more freedom to indulge in more intricate passages of play, the results of which are, on the whole, very effective.

Unfortunately, however, the encouraging signs shown on ‘V’ pretty much come to an end at this point, and the positives are essentially outweighed by several negative traits. Perhaps the most notable pitfall of the album on the first listen is the quality of the vocals, and while Lipynsky’s abilities on guitar are not in question, his vocals fail to match the necessary standard. There is a real lack of individuality in this area on the first few tracks, and when Lipynsky tries to slightly alter his style on ‘Adversaries Mask 1’ and ‘Sleeping While They Feast’, it becomes even more clear that his vocal capabilities are very limited. Another major flaw of ‘V’ is that Unearthly Trance seem to have opted to ‘play it safe’. There is very little variation of style from one track to the next, and as a result of this, the album inevitably becomes fairly monotonous after some time. If Unearthly Trance had been more audacious in their approach to writing this album, the final outcome would have probably been more intriguing, and frankly more enjoyable. The band’s tentative attitude, however, has resulted in an album which is difficult to take pleasure in on a consistent basis, and while the members of Unearthly Trance are proficient in each of their roles, the vocals being an exception, they have been unable to utilise their abilities efficiently and create an album that showcases them in the best manner. A disappointing effort overall.

Rating – 5

     

About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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