Relapse has a nose for sniffing out those special kinds of acts that usually bridge gaps, push boundaries, or possess that something extra to help set them apart from the rest of the herd. NYC's UNEARTHLY TRANCE is not quite as "out there" as vocalist/guitarist/noise-maker Ryan Lipynksy's black metal expeditionary force, THRALLDOM, but this third full-length release and first for Relapse does paint its doom and noisy atmospherics with a variety of colors. A Sanford Parker production is always well-suited for this kind of sonic boom artistry (the "main tracks" were recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio Studios).
UNEARTHLY TRANCE does not run a drone marathon (like some its Southern Lord compatriots), rub you raw with unrelenting sludge, or forcibly induce acid-tripping histrionics. Instead, the trio, which also includes Jay Newman (bass/noise) and Darren Verni (drums), takes element of all these styles and creates a varied album that works well in feeding the brain and scarring the nerves. Still, a sizeable chunk of the material stops short of esoteric ramble and rocks hard in a way that brings a freakier HIGH ON FIRE or MASTODON to mind, as "You Get What You Want" and "Wake Up and Smell the Corpses" so aptly demonstrate. Riff-heavy and monolithic churnings with sprinkles of the ethereal (whether it is whispered or echoed vocals, light picking, etc) are heard elsewhere, as is the case on "Scarlet", "The Air Exits, The Sea Accepts Me", "In Self, Infinite", and "Firebrand". The loud and distorted "Permanent Ice" and the outright nerve-fraying ruckus of "Where the Unbelievable is Ordinary" serve as appropriate bookends.
Some may yearn for past mind-bending releases like "Frostwalkwithme" (Parasitic Records), "Season of Séance, Science of Silence" and "In the Red" (both on Rise Above), while others may welcome the twists and turns of UT 2006. It matters little, as earth moving intensity is the common thread. Personally, I'm not moved to call "The Trident" a work of sheer genius, but I am appreciative and generally intrigued with the depth of the material. An absorbing release to be sure.