Demo:listen: Unshriven Aghast

“We are a collective of individuals who will remain nameless for now,” Unshriven Aghast announce themselves. “We are in other active bands with a presence in the metal underground but we prefer to let Unshriven Aghast’s black metal warfare be the focus.”

A few weeks ago, Brooklyn-based bazaar of all things evil and malign, Stygian Black Hand, introduced us to a brand-new USBM act named Unshriven Aghast. They proposed we premiere their demo, Beacons of Revolt, via our weekly feature. After pressing ‘play’ on Unshriven Aghast’s first track “Howling Upheaval,” it became all too clear. We wouldn’t have much choice in the matter at all.

“‘Unshriven — aghast’ describes the scenario of a pearl-clutching traditionalist at the notion of expiring outside of God’s light,” the group says in explanation of their unique and evocative band name. They continue to explain that the “reaction, state of disapproval, horror, disbelief” experienced by the unshriven “is what [they] embrace.” They say, “that is what we offer the future, that is the purest distillation of our black metal. We bring the terror of a world in which [such traditionalists] have no place.”

According to Unshriven Aghast themselves, they play: “Riff-heavy underground black metal.

“We are old,” the band admits. “We grew up listening to black metal before social media became what it is, before YouTube, before ‘post-black metal,’ before there was a specialized form of extreme metal for every specific taste. Unshriven Aghast is the pure black metal that we want to hear.”

Beacons of Revolt

We ask them about the paramilitary figure on the cover of their album. Unshriven Aghast explains, “Let us be clear: we stand firmly against fascism, nationalism, imperialism, the superiority of one type of person over another, and the myth of a benevolent government. At the same time, we do not rush to describe ourselves as a political band. We identify exclusively as a black metal band. We are artists. Our music transcends politics and speaks with the revolutionary spirit of not just black metal but heavy metal itself. The self-described political band is caught up in policy, party, elections, identity… Political bands tend to prioritize their propaganda over their art. We summon fire, unrest, action. We disrupt peace, shatter windows, destroy barriers. In the course of that, we must take political positions, but these are the natural, obvious positions of one who rejects these systems of exploitation and control, these methods of preventing the least among us from unlocking their potential and becoming the mightiest.”

They continue, “Someone looking to disregard our position might say, ‘Surely, black metal cannot be about love and harmony!’ We are not taking the position of love and harmony, either. We are the flames of change, not the ashes to be swept away. Let the political bands figure out what comes next. Like all great black metal, our core transcends the politics of the moment and becomes an evocation of war and hellfire and revolution!”

According to the band, Beacons of Revolt “focuses on conflict, revolution, destruction of the holy, and the inversion of tradition.”

Although the writing process for Beacons of Revolt was somewhat unorthodox. “We live in different cities,” the band explains. “Songs were written and passed between parties until the work was completed. It took one week for the songs to be written and then the rest of the process took another 4 weeks due to scheduling demands. The material was recorded in our individual spaces and finalized by a member of our collective.” The band reiterates: “All parties would like to remain anonymous.”

Unshriven Aghast say, “Since finishing the demo, our first act was to establish communication with Stygian Black Hand, who have demonstrated themselves as excellent partners. We are all working on other music endeavors but ideation has begun on the next Unshriven Aghast work. You can expect more from us SOON. Hails!”

Get Beacons of Revolt from Stygian Black Hand