Unearthly Trance’s members may have taken a break from the band, but not from each other, continuing to play together in Serpentine Path, a doom outfit of a different flavour taking a more straightforward approach with fewer melodramatics and more caustic riffing. Their first record in seven years in their slicker, more accessible guise comes lumbering straight out of the gates of Hell with Into The Spiral, a 10-ton Mancubus with destruction on its craven mind. In their heyday, these stalwarts stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Electric Wizard as giants of the scene, and the best part of a decade has done nothing to dull their instinct for heavy suffering within withering environs.
Stalking The Ghost, UT’s sixth full-length, feels like a natural progression from where they left off, combining the core elements of what fans loved with a mature songwriting sensibility that sees power and intensity caught in a tug of war with a melodically induced atmosphere of blasphemous reverence. Dream State Arsenal is aptly named, a swirling aether of vague build-up followed by six minutes of sonorous pounding, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky at the end of his tortured vocal spectrum as he ranges from gravel-throated to unintelligibly inhumane.
As the band have aged their early brashness has transmuted into an angered solemnity that does nothing to diminish the live potential of stormers like Famine, sporting a tri-tone that resonates trans-dimensionally and a chorus that only further ups the ante. It’s the first of a one-two punch that’s quickly followed up by Lion Strength, a stormy sea of subdued strumming and seismic shudders to make your head wobble. Such outright bombast is tempered by atmospheric mood-setters like instrumental closer In The Forest’s Keep – and it proves the difference between this and their ‘other’ band – a cinematic sense of melodrama that prevents the slog through their ponderous riff chasm from ever becoming a chore. A forthcoming appearance at Roadburn is surely not to be missed when the band sounds so revitalised and like they’re having fun – well, as much as you can while making such a dismally acerbic racket. It’s good to have them back.