Recorded and mixed at the Music-Bros Studios during July – August 1997. Originally released in 1998, re-released on Peaceville Records in 2011.
In 1988 the Finnish band Holy Hell changed their name to Unholy and emerged as one of the first doom metal bands from Finland. Their style was originally a fusion of death, black and doom metal; something that you can still hear in this their third (and penultimate) full-length album.
During their career, they released four albums: From the Shadows (1993), The Second Ring of Power (1994), Rapture (1998) and Gracefallen (1999) before breaking up in 2002. Word is that they are preparing a comeback this year (2012).
Album opener “Into Cold Light” took me completely by surprise. I was expecting something along the lines of Candlemass, Saint Vitus or even Cathedral. Instead I got a thumping, grooving masterpiece.
Over the course of the first minute (of 5’44”) “Into Cold Light” builds to a crescendo of thundering drums, a bouncing, grooving bass line, and keyboards and guitars that weave effortlessly in and out of the rhythm. It sounds almost industrial in spirit and is quite uncharacteristic of the whole album… but it’s brilliant.
The rest of the album showcases Unholy’s roots in black/death/doom metal which reminded me in parts of early Paradise Lost and Celtic Frost. With the keyboards a few of songs even remind me in places of German industrial band Die Krupps (particularly the intro to “Unzeitgeist”). Track four, the fifteen minute “Wunderwerek”, is particularly sorrowful and the clean guitar riff throughout I found quite hypnotic.
This is an unhurried album: it is brooding and funereal but it’s also full of surprises with the music making very unexpected twists and turns almost into other genres in places. And that’s what makes the album so good: you just can’t nail it down. Unholy are themselves. While you can hear their influences they mimic no one.
I’ve listened to the whole album about three times. It demands to be listened to in its entirety from start to finish without interruption. And it’s in that quiet attention to detail that you begin to appreciate Unholy’s quiet attention to detail. There is a discipline required to play so slowly, and a discipline also to listen to it.
I absolutely loved the opening track. I can see it making its way onto a compilation of my favourite tracks of this project, or even my all time various tracks ever. The rest of the album takes a left turn into completely different waters but represents the death/doom metal genre very well. I’d definitely play this album again out of choice. A welcome addition to my record collection.
Review score: 85%