Ungraven - Language of Longing - (7/10)
Published on March 8, 2019
Genre:Sludge / Industrial / Hardcore
Do you enjoy having your face delicately shat upon from an appropriate height or are you into the more picturesque version of faeces splattered everywhere indiscriminately? Either way, you’ll find plenty to satisfy you on the internet, while enthusiasts of the latter are also recommended to turn their cack-free visages towards the light that is Language of Longing. Jon Davis of Liverpudlian doom bastards Conan is the one doing the shitting and, boy, was he overdue! A rank mixture of sludge, noise, hardcore, industrial, and black metal comes bursting out all at once and doesn’t really seemed to be directed at any part of the listener’s face in particular – according to Ungraven’s Bandcamp page, it merely aims to be skull smashing.
Skull smashing in a sort of distant, fuzzy, misanthropic way it may be, but a better description might sound like this: the sonic companion to having a fight while super doped with codeine. To divulge: distortion was probably what Davis’s parents fed him in his boyhood (judging by both his hair and amps), plus the lumbering yet vaguely punky riffing of “Impale Lore” certainly doesn’t confine this to the hospital bed before plenty of damage is done to the surroundings. The faecal imagery that welcomed you to this review simply explains how everything that Davis has ever ingested musically comes out in five little sausages, with “Targetted” representing a final larger dump of all the extra ideas. You wouldn’t necessarily want to clean up this mini-album, but it feels messy nonetheless.
Owing to the multi-coloured approach, the first official Ungraven release ends up less notable for songwriting or particular details and more for the shade of tertiary brown achieved by mixing Electric Wizard, Fudge Tunnel, Ministry, Anaal Nathrakh, and Cro-Mags in uneven parts. Each of the cuts represents a stab at something that sounds familiar yet hasn’t really been done before, be that the interruption of industrial guitar noise into the slamming sludge groove of “Targetted” or the fumbling blastbeats, rumbling fuzz, and strained shouting that combines disparate elements of ‘90s metal on “Aggro Master”. A certain number of deliciously unattractive riffs pop up, sometimes to be beaten down by unruly clanging percussion or allowed to dominate proceedings. Nothing is fast, yet nothing eschews progression. Nothing is cleaned up; nothing sparkles through.
Though certifiably unwashed, “Blackened Gates of Eternity” somehow manages to be an inconspicuous opener. The other songs achieve higher levels of memorable content, changing pace enough to remain vivid and even farting out some hooks during “Onward She Rides to a Certain Death”, which, as titles go, sounds at once atmospheric and like a terribly smart innuendo. Eventually, however, one has to conclude that Davis doesn’t manage to make his toxic cocktail feel comprehensively innovative, just hinting at the possibilities of what more creativity could do with the style. Rather like seeing endless images of faces covered in yesterday’s breakfast, Language of Longing has a diminishing effect with repeated exposures. Let’s hope Davis eats more corn next time.