The Munsens – Unhanded

Home to the likes of Khemmis and the sickening might of Primitive Man, Denver Colorado has carved out a significant Metal niche in the last few years, and rag-tag trio The Munsens intend to mean more than a jagged splinter in that hole. Formed from a background of Hardcore, Punk and Black Metal, this particular identity offers an exciting amalgamation of the three disciplines with a huge dollop of gravity thrown into the mix.

The initial strains of debut album Unhanded (Sailor Records) show nothing of that pedigree: instead commencing with the doleful chimes of last year’s single release ‘Dirge (For Those To Come)’, the dry throat the only element of what is, indeed, to come. When the fire appears it’s a wounded post-Black maelstrom full of devastating drama, and this alternates with that original lament in stirring fashion thanks to the eerie lead and pulverising riffs of Shaun Goodwin. The coda sees Michael Goodwin’s bass and the mighty drums of Graham Wesselhoff dictate and this colossal thrum begins the ensuing ‘Pitiful’, laying a resonant trail for Shaun’s crushing strings. Michael assumes his brother’s riff as a mournful, spiked lead brings in that rasping vocal roar. It’s a monstrosity with a heart, the last quarter hastening the tempo whilst losing none of its weight or meaning.

The title track is a faster blackened Punk workout which, while cheapening the potency somewhat, is a hulking ball of savage energy. As the line “Not in my most fiendish of dreams could I have foreseen…” is screamed, a more troubled version of Touché Amoré’s Jeremy Bolm is evinced and the sound takes another turn.

‘Bleeding From The Ears’ returns to the template of misery, subtly wailing atmospherics underpinning Shaun’s sparing chords until a sinister, winding rhythm trots out a lumbering groove. The chorus is a tragic display of omen: its mid-section a shrill cry piercing the dark and surrounding a rampany fulmination of both anger and pain, leading to a poignant finale.

The closing ‘Rivers Of Error’ sees more of those Post jangles descend into hostile fuzz with Wesselhoff’s drums again adding oomph in an understated manner. It’s the versatility from such a simple base, the ability to inject emotion into a rhythm-heavy bluster, that’s the remarkable selling point of this album: as if the Crusty Death-Doom of Amebix and devastating bitterness of the aforementioned Touché Amoré was weighed to the sea floor.

Unhanded is a bruising yet intimate encounter that tells the listener to “Fuck off” while simultaneously showing them empathy and in doing so, gives The Munsens an X-factor that should create huge interest.

7 / 10

PAUL QUINN