Ever since EMPEROR decided to add symphonic and melodic elements to their Black Metal sound, there has been a major rift in the Black Metal community. Is the addition of melodies and symphonic elements diluting the idea of true Black Metal? Is it compromising the concepts and ideas that Black Metal was built upon? These questions have divided most of the Black Metal community into different sides of opinion. But there are those bands that bridge the riff of traditional raw Black Metal and the melodic tendencies of the new. UNLIGHT is one of these bands that can add in the epic symphonic elements and modern production yet still keep that very traditional sound of Black Metal in the mix.
UNLIGHT’s latest release (their third full length) entitled, “Eldest Born Of Hell”, blends the modern and the classic almost perfectly as they quickly move from a symphonic intro the speed and stripped down song writing of the first track, “Retribution For The Witches”. In fact, most of the mainstay instrumental work for the album (guitars, bass, and drums) for the album are based in that classic Black Metal sense of chaos, speed, and extremity. Especially in the first half of “Eldest Born Of Hell” you are going to hear harsh screechy vocals and the speed driven song writing.
As the album goes on though, the band increasingly adds bits of melody and tempo changes. Keyboards (although appearing sparingly in the first half) become a more prominent force and the song writing allows for some more melodic moments to overlay the traditional Black Metal sound. Most of them are pushed back in the mix so that the rhythm section (blast beats and fast picking) take most of the attention of the sound. Even the solos throughout the album are thrown into the back of the mix so that the speed and intensity of the songs is allowed to really build. But you are going to hear some modern sounds from UNLIGHT on this release.
The very groovy intro riff to “Dark Lords Of Impiety” sounds almost Thrash but it still leads straight back into the Black Metal sound that UNLIGHT has already established. Then later, on the track “Non Serviam”, there is a very melodic guitar intro that is carried on throughout the first verse. This may not be very traditional according to Black Metal standards, but it adds an entire new level to the song and makes it a very memorable one on the album. Most of the album is the traditional sound but there are numerous moments like these two that give this album some new layers and variety which allows it to rise above the majority of Black Metal bands.
The production and mix is quite clean sounding which might anger many Black Metal fans. Personally, I think the production of “Eldest Born Of Hell” is some of the best I’ve heard from a Black Metal band. The mix and recording is tight that allows you to hear every note (something that is NOT known for underground Black Metal).
It’s quite refreshing to hear a Black Metal band that doesn’t focus on the melodies and yet uses them to compliment the music that they create. UNLIGHT uses the best of both modern Black Metal and traditional Black Metal on “Eldest Born Of Hell”, and that is something you don’t hear everyday. Also don’t forget to check out UNLIGHT’s very awesome cover of SODOM’s “Wachturm” at the end of the album.
Songs to check out: “Retribution For The Witches”, “Dark Lords Of Impiety”, “Non Serviam”.
(Online February 9, 2008)