UNORTHODOX
"Awaken"

(The Church Within)

01. Soultaker
02. Dogma
03. Friend in Need
04. Awaken
05. Kicking Dead Horses
06. Walls and Bridges
07. Comin Down
08. Drowning in a Wishing Well
09. Emptiness
10. Road to Ruin

RATING: 8.5/10

It's not like anyone in the storied Virginia/Maryland/DC doom scene is rolling in Benzes and taking private jets. But despite the insular nature of that pocket of the music world, someone like Wino still gets his due from fans and critics worldwide, even if he is rocking a day job. For a guy like Dale Flood, though, making music is almost like the proverbial tree in the forest. UNORTHODOX hasn't managed to put an album out since 1995, when the incredible "Balance of Power" delivered plaintive, heartfelt, fuzzed-out, psych-tinged biker groove rock that would be rocking stadiums (or at least rib-offs) around the country in a just universe. But that record sank without a trace upon its release, and over the years, it's seemed like the entire planet's supply of UNORTHODOX diehards would fit into a small pub, with room left over for all of PENTAGRAM's ex-members and Bobby Liebling's medical team.

With the release of "Awaken", though, it's like the ensuing fourteen years never happened, UNORTHODOX picking right up where they left off. Flood's voice still evokes a welter of emotions, most of them of the melancholy variety, while his warm, expressive guitar tone and soulful licks are as timeless as ever. Songs like "Awaken" are meant to get lost in, long cuts with meandering riffing that's too universal and rockin' to be strictly considered doom, but too soaked in pathos and loss to be anything but. This is doom-laden heavy rock with a weary soul, organic as only a power trio can deliver, aching with the resignation of one born too late and fed on neglect. All that aside, it's a life-affirming, defiant sound, the kind of gallows crunge that speaks to primal emotions and seems like it oughta have a universal appeal. Why isn't every denim-bedecked roughneck with beer foam in his moustache from Omaha to Oslo jamming these guys?

UNORTHODOX are required listening for anyone into Wino's work with THE OBSESSED and SPIRIT CARAVAN, and should appeal to anyone who flies the flag for unique, from-the-heart heavy stoner grooves. With its loose, off-the-floor sound, inimitable tone, and elemental doom aura, "Awaken" should make a deep connection with anyone who takes the time to seek it out. Highly recommended, criminally underrated.

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