Monday, September 27, 2010


Relapse Records

One of my memories of the late nineties Extreme Metal scene was watching the rise and fall of Sludge rock. The genre suffered the same fate that all popular music genres have suffered from and that’s over saturation. You had quite a few decent bands riding the wake, some of whom are still around today, but then the coattail riders entered the picture. They believed in order to get noticed then they needed to emulate the flavor of the month sound after which even the top bands started releasing mediocre albums and the genre sunk. I see the same thing happening today but atleast now there’s an overflow valve. Once things start to get full in the Extreme Metal tub the overflow goes over the side down to the masses which is basically the mainstream, indie rock and hipster crowd. What we call mediocre and boring is to them new and exciting. Here’s another one for them to wallow in.

I actually liked UNEARTHLY TRANCE until I played this and was bored out of my wits. I got into them after hearing their 2008 release Electrocution which I thought was decent and looked forward to hearing more. Last year the band appeared on four incredible splits with the bands ALDEBARON, RAMESSES, MINSK and VOLITION. It was from listening to those releases that my anticipation grew. Next came guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky’s black metal side project from this year THE HOWLING WIND which I considered half ass in its attempt to join black metal with sludge. The BP oil spill in the Gulf was a better concoction. Which brings us to this one and I have to ask whatafuck happened to suck a promising band?

It’s not that UNEARTHLY TRANCE has changed significantly it’s just that this release also sounds half ass and without passion. All the features which made me like em before are still present. Lipynsky still has that caustic growl which reminds me of John Brannon (LAUGHING HYENAS, NEGATIVE APPROACH) if he’d consider doing a Sludge rock band. I have no complaints about Lipynsky’s dynamite like riffs plus the bass and drum work is satisfactory. It’s just that the songs ascend to the peak and then tumble down the other side. The great thing about the splits was that UNEARTHLY TRANCE gave you these short bursts of excitement whether they were playing traditional Sludge or reaching back to its early Punk/Hardcore (sludge punk) roots. On V they merely scratch at those aesthetics and leave this fifty-eight minute beast running on cruise control.

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