Stalking the Ghost by Unearthly TranceRelease date: February 24, 2017
Label: Relapse Records
Operating as a band for around thirty years must present moments of reservation. Unearthly Trance met this notion in 2012 where the band took a break after years of pummeling doom and sludge records across a plethora of LPs, splits and EPs. The band announced their reformation after this relatively short stint, which naturally leads to this newest release Stalking the Ghost. This record is Unearthly Trance as you know and love them, not treading into any new territory yet proving they can take the ingredients of a solid doom and sludge album and act as the perfect catalyst to bind them together.
After the band’s break and considering the projects that formed during that time, Stalking the Ghost feels whole and heavy; from the moody, slow tones that run throughout every track to the artwork that tributes the relationship between the music and all it’s dark, ghoulish and occult themes that has always cemented the appeal. There is a comfort in the uncomfortable darkness of this record, one emphasized by memorable cuts such as ‘Dream State Arsenal’, a track that packs a slow punch and is instantly infectious. This where the appeal of this album is highlighted; it’s atmosphere is absorbing enough to make these tracks stand out in their own way.
The opening track ‘Into the Spiral’ and ‘Scythe’ are examples of where the album picks up in sonic pace, varying from the consistent battering of slow riff and drum work. A personal attraction to the sound of this record is the influence of other contemporary bands such as Neurosis, made prominent on tracks such as ‘Lion Strength’. Unearthly Trance sound as assured as you’d expect them to be given their impressive catalogue, and I feel this has carried over to this new release to not only satisfy fans of their music but to also produce and LP that feels new and independent following their time out as a band.
It’s certain that this is nothing new in terms of the band’s sound or doom in general, but in more than one ways I found this record to be refreshing; whether this is due to the welcomed return of a much-loved band within the genre or simply because Stalking the Ghost is a solid new example of the sounds that people strive to get obliterated by. Overall, this new offering sounds like the record the band wanted to make in all aspects; the success of which shows through the blistering and ethereal doom tracks crafted for optimal impact.