Unearthly Trance – Stalking the Ghost (Relapse)

Thursday, 6th April 2017
Rating: 7/10

One of the first blackened sludge bands out of the gate, New York’s Unearthly Trance helped usher in an era where tone and volume of sound was of immense priority. You’re never going to mistake the band for being technical marvels, but the harsh manner in which albums like 2004’s In the Red the ensuing The Trident from 2006 operated clearly gave many other bands the idea they too could essentially warp the sludge spectrum. After a seven-year absence, the band has returned with the dutiful, yet focused Stalking the Ghost.

Reliant almost to a fault on Ryan Lipynsky’s guitar tone, Unearthly Trance’s suitably crushing sound finds its groove (in a literal sense) on opener “Into the Spiral,” which has a simplistic drive that is more crust-punk than metal. The doom, however, starts to work its way in on “Dream State Arsenal,” which begins with a noise collage, then unfolds into searing, clashing/colliding territory. From there, Stalking the Ghost trudges along in expected fashion, with UT sparing no moment of half-time, behind-the-beat offerings, save for the nine-minute “The Great Cauldron,” one of the few songs here that allows some semblance of melody to seep through.

This type of doom often finds itself against a wall for its single-mindedness, something Unearthly Trance should be lauded and somewhat derided for. It is of little dispute the band has been able to regain their footing from 2010’s V (their most recent studio album, mind you), and while bands of a similar thread have either trampled over or expanded upon UT’s early doom forays, the fact is the doom scene is better for having these guys around.