Martriden – The Unsettling Dark (Candlelight Records)

Thursday, 14th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Matriden’s home state of Montana has about as many palm trees as metal bands, which is why Matriden is quickly earned a rightful position amongst the North American modern black metal scene. The band’s self-titled EP was a throttling blend of post-Enthrone Darkness Triumphant-era Dimmu and recent God Dethroned, so anticipation and desire was there for The Unsettling Dark.

At first glance, it appears the band has toned their melodic black metal approach, opting for a more basic blackened death approach, something more along the lines of say, Dark Funeral without the blinding speed. Album opener “The Enigma of Fate” has some callous grooves to it without nary a hint of melody, but the guitars ooze with caustic precision. The same bodes for “The Calling” which cues in some pretty nifty triplet work and dynamics in the chorus.

The Unsettling Dark runs into trouble at the halfway mark, as some of these tunes run right into a wall. Both “The Unsettling Dark” and “Prelude” are respectable in their own right, but serve some quirky chord movements that come dangerously close to resembling some of the antics hauled in by the current deathcore scene. Luckily, “Procession of the Hellfire Chariot” and album finale “Immaculate Perception” are just the epic, atmospheric tunes Matriden need to claw out of the box it comes closes to putting itself in.

More in the vein of melodic elements as first heard on the EP (especially the mammoth ending to “Blank Eye Stare”) would have been welcomed, but The Unsettling Dark is certainly with merit. The band’s geographic isolation probably has a lot to do in terms of their oft-kilter blend of blackened death metal, making their first proper album a keeper.

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