Album of the Day: Unearthly Trance, “Stalking The Ghost”

The designation “doom metal” may signify the heavy sluggishness of the music’s sound, but it fails to convey how much fun it can be. Long Island’s Unearthly Trance, returning from hiatus with their first album in seven years, seem barely able to conceal their collective glee in performing such deliciously miserable music again. Granted, the trio’s growled lyrics are rooted in tales of death and despair; if you crave six minutes of relentlessly solidified sludge look no further than “Invisible Butchery” off their new LP Stalking The Ghost. The malevolently rumbling riffs throughout the LP are generally slow (per the subgenre’s template), and muddier than the memory of a habitual Substance D abuser. Yet many are also kind of…bubbly? The intro of “Into The Spiral,” for instance, possesses an almost desert-rock bounciness, immediately yanking the listener into the track, which melds Greed Killing-era Napalm Death with Isis’ smoggy post-metal and Godflesh’s less industrial works.

In true stoner fashion, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky never sounds like he’s trying too hard with his gonzo solos, and—although it may be frowned upon in some proggy circles—he remains fiercely loyal the good old-fashioned art of the creaky pick scrape. Darren Verni, meanwhile, drums with hefty, no-nonsense minimalism. The group’s dynamics and structures are playful too:  the midsection of “Lion Strength,” for instance, softens way down to mere whispers and cymbal jingles in the build up to its inevitable but very welcome crushing crescendo. This ghost feels less stalked than tickled.

— JR Moores

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