Hailing from Ohio, US death/thrash outfit Unkured self-released their sophomore album, Mutated Earth, late last year. Sliptrick Records has signed the band and re-released the album to give it a better chance of reaching a wider audience.
Currently a two-piece consisting of Cody Knarr (Vocals & Guitars) and Ben Stanton (Bass) after the recent departure of Adam Green (Drums) the band are progressively-leaning Thrash/death crossover outfit with some big ambitions. Knarr’s vocals are very reminiscent of Chuck Schuldiner’s tortured screams, both in sound and phrasing, while the music behind it is equally adventurous as Schuldiner’s later albums with Death.
An ever-changing maelstrom of riffs, no two minutes on Mutated Earth are the same, let along two tracks. From the opening assault of the title-track, Mutated Earth is a swirling barrage of staccato shredding, blast beats and snarling vocals. It’s relentless but the sheer volume of riffs on offer keeps this sounding fresh.
Aside from the heavy Death influences and a general aura of 90s death metal, there are moments recalling classic Slayer and the occasional nod the more melodic elements of Gothenburg-based melo-death, especially in the solos. The likes of ‘Anti-Terraforming’, ‘…Into Crumbling Ruin’ and ‘They Live, We Sleep’ are vicious but intricate, combining the seriously brutal with some impressively technical musicianship – especially on the solos and in the outgoing Green’s drumwork.
There’s nothing resembling hooks or choruses; this is complex and demands your attention to be fully appreciated. Mutated Earth is heavy, ambitious and adventurous. Not afraid to show off its influences, it balances paying tribute without being derivative better than most. Well worth a listen if you want to hear the music of Death brought back to life for 45 minutes.
In amongst the big boys now, with the Official Ghost Cult Top 10 Albums of 2014. Kicking off with albums 10 to 6, these were the attention and headline grabbing albums that provided the soundtrack to the year…
10. DEVIN TOWNSEND – Z2 (HevyDevy/InsideOut)
Not one but two aural explosions from everyone’s favourite Canadian ADD sufferer. Disk 1 showcases the epic pop-Metal melodies expounded on Epicloud, in a vibrant collection of melodies, twists and simply great tunes, while Disk 2 is the long awaited Ziltoid sequel, a more symphonic and aggressive take on the original. Devin has shown, once again, that no matter what project fills his head, he is a pure musical genius, with 3 albums (technically) in our Top 50.
“Double albums are notoriously difficult beasts to grapple with. If there’s a suspicion of ‘all filler, no killer’, that’s perhaps understandable given some of rock music’s recent inglorious past when it comes to musical heft. The common consensus on this sort of exercise ranges from how to edit Use Your Illusion (Geffen) into one digestible chunk; realising that, yes, Fleetwood Mac really did do ALL of the drugs when recording Tusk (Warner Bros) and, frankly, even Corey Taylor must think that there is way too much padding on House of Gold and Bones (Roadrunner). Breathe easier, then, as this is not a sprawling, indulgent mess. Z2 is indulgent and there is a LOT to get through but Z2 is two records being issued simultaneously rather than some attempt at a single, 23 song epic.”
9. AT THE GATES – At War With Reality (Century Media)
After a gap of 19 (NINETEEN!) years the Fathers of the Gothenburg sound released the follow up to one of the greatest extreme albums of time, the genuine legend that was Slaughter of the Soul (Earache). That they didn’t embarrass themselves is one thing, that they were able to ignite the flame of excitement in older fans and pick up newer ones, whose favourite bands swore by the altar of ATG is testament to their quality.
“At War With Reality is a genuinely worthwhile listen and worth the 19 year wait. It still sounds like At The Gates, not the razor-focused Slayer-worship of Slaughter of the Soul, although those moments are still present, but an all-encompassing At The Gates that draws from the band’s entire back catalogue. At The Gates have shown the world that they’re still the most powerful force in melodic death metal. At War With Reality does more than just prop up the band’s legacy, it enhances it.”
8. PALLBEARER – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)
Doooooooooooooom, beautiful doooooooooooom! Melancholy, poignant, mournful and emotive, the second album from Arkansas’ Pallbearer set new standards in textured 70’s styled doom, twining haunting, reflective leads, heart-felt impassioned lyrics and vocals, and down-tuned crashes.
“Superlatives and panegyrics are thrown around like confetti these days, and mostly for albums that just don’t deserve them. Here is an entity beyond words. The blend of crushing weight and sadness that twines with an almost paradoxical ascension to light throughout this quite magnificent set is sublime and inspirational. This willingness to puncture doom’s boundaries and travel outside them surely hails Pallbearer as the most important band of their genre right now.”
7. TRIPTYKON – Melana Chasmata (Century Media / Prowling Death)
The sound of decomposition in thick, gloopy, stained riffage, the darkest end of despair in musical format, the sound of utter personal devastation hammered relentlessly into your ears as Tom G Warrior continues the styling first unveiled on Celtic Frost’s swansong, Monotheist. Beyond the gloom, beyond the end of the universe, lurks Triptykon’s second opus magnificum.
“Still gloriously innovative at 50, the enigmatic and death-obsessed Thomas Gabriel Fischer returns with his latest and possibly most enigmatic incarnation. The darkly expansive Eparistera Daimones, the first Triptykon album, displayed a panoply of musical styles. Remarkably, sophomore suite Melana Chasmata sees a deeper mining of that creativity, reaffirming the band’s reluctance to be confined by any musical barrier and confirming the triumphant second coming of Gabriel’s most inventive, diverse and impressive guise.”
Perhaps the most hotly anticipated “pure” Death Metal release of the second half of the year, this Polish hate machine did not disappoint, with a career and genre defining masterpiece, adding to their impressive canon with an absolute killer of cemtex-infused vocal growls, blistering drumming, colossal grooves and excessive riffs. But this was no old school rehash, the Krosno krew enhance their wares with industrial touches, and an insinuation of Slipknot showing this is a thoroughly modern and quite exceptional Death Metal band.
“With this much skill at their disposal, looking back it almost seems embarrassing that they were ever doubted. To use a lazy comparison, Decapitated are like (Marvel Comics anti-hero) Blade; they possess all of the strengths of Death Metal and none of its weaknesses. And it’s increasingly evident they cannot be killed. Quite simply Blood Mantra is one of the finest Death Metal albums to be released now or ever and it’s difficult to see how it can be topped. One thing is for sure; Vitek would be proud.”