Company: Regain Records Release: 2008 Genre: Heavy Reviewer: Etiam
Master of none
Unanimated's 1993 debut, 'In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead', was an early watershed that melded Sweden's many emerging schools of extreme metal into a appealing, if rather rugged, melange. Carving a path from one touchstone to the next, whatever it lacked in polish it made up for with youthful enthusiasm and a reasonable helping of inspired riffs.
Its 1995 successor, 'Ancient God of Evil', is a tighter and more neatly arranged effort that has recently been reissued by Regain Records. This version, alongside a couple bonus tracks, was remastered by original technician Peter in de Betou, who supplies more modern amplitude without overriding the vintage Unisound production. And yet, this record's technical superiority in both production and performance, it is ultimately less satisfying than the debut. Throughout its 40 minutes, 'Ancient God...' only manages to shine during its passages of melodic black metal, which marks a transition from the more splashy, angular, and lower-pitched riffing heard on much of the debut. The transition is not always executed effectively: occasional thrash hooks ('Dying Emotions Domain') are engaging, but the staid rock tropes ('Eye of the Greyhound', 'Dead Calm') and prosaic pentatonic leads ('Oceans of Time', 'Eye of the Greyhound' once again) dispel the atmosphere and end up sounding like Edge of Sanity cast-offs.
As for the black metal side of the coin--here more distinctly articulated than on the debut--Unanimated has more worth showing. 'Die Alone', for one, is a melancholic, impassioned mini-epic of rattling drums, textbook tremolo arpeggiations, and Micke Jansson's memorable shriek of its titular refrain. Alas, this album had the misfortune to come out the same year as 'Storm of the Light's Bane', and the former's 'Life Demise' seems constantly on the edge of turning into 'Night's Blood'. Lacking the broader genre base of the debut, 'Ancient God...' must endure comparisons to even more focused masterpieces from its era, and under such conditions this jack of all trades seems a master of none.
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