Unanimated - In the Light of Darkness Review
by Matt Hensch
I am not going to pussyfoot about how I felt after witnessing Unanimated's reformation: I knew it would rule regardless of what these nebulous Swedes produced, classic Gothenburg or not. Hell, I have seemed personally magnetized by Unanimated's secluded slabs of melodic-based death/black metal that, if one excuses the opinion, rip overrated selections like The Gallery a new pooper, simply because the group's original duo of full-lengths are dominant in melody and potency while balanced and brutal. Those days have been gone for years now, but Unanimated makes a triumphal return fourteen years after those pitch-black months with In the Light of Darkness. I must say, however, that there is nothing arduous about Unanimated's latest expedition; purist black/death metal parallel to Dissection or Watain with dazzling touches of melody for good, clairvoyant measure…what else could one ask for?
The approach taken during In the Light of Darkness resembles a more retrogressive blitzkrieg equalizing the blueprints found on Unanimated's early years as a rule, leaning towards an equally balanced perimeter of death and black metal with a melodic attitude avenging the likes of Ancient God of Evil. I could rant about how original or intelligent In the Light of Darkness sounds, but in reality, it is not, and it does not need to be special in its own way. The name of the game is simple: nasty, sinful tremolo riffs summoned onto rapid percussion with tasty melodies for additional enchantments. Only in this situation, Unanimated delivers riffs and instrumental ideas that are cleverly powerful and remain true to the band's nature through qualities they themselves once mastered. Nothing technical or trendy; just stellar death/black metal surrounded by glorious melodies.
In a sense, Unanimated never appears exhausted or outdated through their snazzy mayhem, but infinitely lost in a dark, hazy trance of nightmarish chaos. Really, this is the kind of thing Jon Nödtveidt should have achieved when he conceived Reinkaos, minus the mediocrity.
Interestingly, Unanimated's ever-evolutionary situation progresses once more into groovy genetics à la Bolt Thrower, lumping towards the record's illusive spinal column of blackened fissures, yet does not derail the faction's ethereal spirit. While not overtly ambitious, Johan Bohlin's colorful riffing animates the groove-laden sections into catchy, memorable bridges working wonderfully for choruses or verse structures for an open-ended display of instrumental mist. These mid-paced tendencies reveal stronger ideas despite simplicity, executing different textures unbeknownst to what usually is associated with Unanimated. Still, such formations are actually beneficial towards the extreme edge present on In the Light of Darkness, because once these waves settle the band can act intrinsic once applying groove or death/black metal, keeping both theories fresh between intervals of use.
There are many highlights. "Retribution in Blood" probably takes the cake right off the gun; those Dissection-orientated riffs are unstoppable, and the group's overall performance is nothing short of admirable. I would label myself a fool not to mention the stellar black metal riffing at the end of "Death to Life" as well, since that final section is musically flawless; however, it would be incredibly ghastly to overshadow the album's hyperborean conclusion "Strategia Luciferi," as the tranquil exit showcases mellow acoustics tied by a depressive, unified epoch while a wintry riff howls in its solemn eclipse. Once again, something like a film's final credits finding folkloric solitude between the emotional and the hateful; if there is one gift Unanimated has acquired over the years, this is the one, and perhaps the most important aspect of their infallible identity.
Obviously, the emerging form represents smoldering flames coexisting with layer upon layer of frozen madness, which in turn, creates an illusion in Unanimated's murky, aesthetic shade that lingers in the opaque, awesome foundation through wind and blaze; it is too obvious few bands of past and future planes are this naturally charmed. There is no disputing In the Light of Darkness fails to achieve the identical sum of its revolutionary earlier work by these evil gods, yet one cannot plausibly argue Unanimated's first opus in over fourteen years resembles that of a faction withered by modern bias or the steady flow of hours past. Indeed, this embodiment strikes the very core of death/black metal with awe-inspiring results, and was certainly worth the wait.
Ascend with the Stench of Death
Retribution in Blood
The Endless Beyond
In the Light of Darkness
The Unconquered One
Enemy of the Sun
Death to Life
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