(In this post, guest contributor Will Cifer reviews False Light, the forthcoming debut album by Virginia’s Unsacred.)
This Virginia band explodes from the start with an impressive burst of feral black metal. The vocals are as hateful a rasp as anything you could ask for from the States. The vocals sit up front in the mix rather than the more typical buried placement. There is a constrained chaos to the attack, making the triumphant gallops stand out.
With most heavy releases, the opening song is impressive by virtue of the sheer violence this sort of music invokes, so it’s up to the band from that point on to prove they can not only maintain the quality, but also continue to write actual engaging songs. So when Unsacred followed the opening title track with the more punk-paced “Idle”, I began to adjust my expectations. In this song, they lean heavily on blast beats and tremolo picking, sticking to the more cookie-cutter black metal approach that they defied on the first song.
“Plague” throws in a half-time section to help break things up, even if ever so slightly, which is what they need more of, as this sort of “up to 11 all the time” risks numbing your ears to the heaviness. But from there, they don’t immediately seem interested in letting up, going from one version of in-your-face-at-warp-speed to a more punk version of the same thing in “Erode”. The backing vocal overdubs help keep this song sounding like the previous one. They pay a little more attention to detail, before throwing that out the window and going back for your jugular.
The rock ‘n’ roll feel of “Void 11” is what this album needed to prevent it from just racing by you while foaming at the mouth. But they can only restrain themselves for so long before launching into the punk-rock-like thrashing, bringing to mind a more punk-infused Mutilation Rites.
The drums at the beginning of “Sun” will remind you that this drummer is badass, if you haven’t noticed by this point. “Sun” does find a crushing sludge-like groove. More of this would have been well-placed earlier in the album. This is where Unsacred make you a believer, rather than blowing all emotion out the window in a tornado of speed sweeping around it.
The band close out the album with “Cage”, yet another blur of rapid-fire blasting. A minute in, they give you and themselves breathing room to play something with melody, and then go rabid again. Unsacred find a better sense of sonics when they slow it down a hair, but that happens on maybe two of the songs on False Light.
Though Unsacred are a tad one-dimensional, they work well in the dimension they dwell in. The album captures what they obviously set out to do. It has a raw and jagged sound, without sounding like it was recorded in their grandmother’s basement with blown speakers. So despite the largely monochromatic sonic setting, this album is an accomplished blending of punk anger with black metal’s venom.
False Light will be released by Forcefield Records on December 9, both digitally and on LP. “Plague” can be streamed below, courtesy of CVLT Nation.