Melodic blackened death metal? Death metal-influenced melodic black metal? Blue cover black metal? It’s hard to come down to a simple description of Swedish bands like Dissection, Sacramentum, Dawn, Vinterland and Naglfar. However, there is one thing us fans of the style can agree on. The combination of tremolo-picked riffs, crushing drums, throaty vocals, and just-clean-enough production makes for an absolutely sublime listening experience. But if there’s one band that deserves more fans and praise, it’s Stockholm’s Unanimated. Perhaps 2018 will give them a chance to get there, as the band has just released a new EP, Annihilation on Century Media.
There was always something different and special about Unanimated. They managed to take the style described above, retain all the black and death metal elements, and then insert hard rock influences as well. This is especially apparent on many of the guitar solos on their glorious debut, In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead, which sound a lot more bluesy than those typical of the style. This was pared back slightly on 1995’s Ancient God of Evil (which Decibel included in our “Top 100 Death Metal Albums of All Time” issue). But you can still catch glimpses on it in spots, like in part of the solo on “Life Demise.” In short, Unanimated were just as dark and evil as the rest of the bunch, but they still knew how to rock!
On this new EP, however, Unanimated stick closer to the muscular sound of their previous comeback record, 2009’s In the Light of Darkness. There’s a distinct Necrophobic-meets-The Gallery-era-Dark Tranquility feel to the music. The production really helps the drums envelop and complement the guitars, which exhibit both melodic tremolo picking and tasteful palm-muted crunching. And as expected, Micke Broberg’s vocals are exactly what this righteous stew of black and death metal calls for, throaty but consistently clear and full.
My only complaint is that it’s just a four-song EP. I want more! I could go for another 20 songs that sound like this. Well, at least we’ll get the chance to see Unanimated live in 2019 at Maryland Deathfest. Anyway, here’s “From a Throne Below,” the EP’s best song: