NYC doom dealers Unearthly Trance have returned from a seven-year recording hiatus—one that gave us a pair of Serpentine Path records, mind you, as they joined up with Tim Bagshaw of Electric Wizard fame. But now the original trio’s back in business, with their sixth album, out this month on Relapse Records. You can expect some more slow, sludgy heaviness from Stalking the Ghost, with eight tracks spanning over 52 minutes.
And they get right into it from the opening note of “Into the Spiral,” a mid-paced death/doom punisher in the vein of their Wintery forebearers. A burst of swirling feedback begins “Dream State Arsenal,” before the first punishing riff kicks in about a minute and a half later. This one actually has a bit of an Electric Wizard feel, circa Dopethrone. “Scythe” cuts deep with a ringing trad-doom riff that reminds me of a more melodic outfit like Penance or Apostle of Solitude—before veering off into crunchier, sludgier territory with a stop-start verse. Still, this might be my most preferred Unearthly Trance tune I’ve ever heard!
“Famine” veers back toward Winter, albeit with some sparser, airier interludes, while “Lion Strength” offers a ringing call-and-response verse that trends toward the heavier end of Pallbearer, slowing things down to a bass line and a whisper around the five-minute mark… which makes the transition back to heavy riffs all the most neck-snapping. “The Great Cauldron” could’ve been pulled from the last couple High on Fire records, sounding sorta like Pike and company at their slowest and sludgiest for a full nine minutes and change, despite throwing in a cleaner section around the midway mark. This might be their most diverse, dynamic recording to date, but as tunes like “Invisible Butchery” show, they’re still no strangers to slow ‘n heavy death/doom.
*All dates April 17 – April 23 with Suma*
Apr 17 Copenhagen, DEN KB18
Apr 18 Hamburg, GER Hafenklang
Apr 19 Brussels, BEL Magasin4
Apr 20 Tilburg, NLD Roadburn Festival
Apr 21 Leipzig, GER Doom Over Leipzig
Apr 22 Athens, GRC Kyytaro Live Stage
Apr 23 Rostock, GER JAZ
Oct 28-29 Baltimore, MD Days of Darkness Festival