To know Seattle’s extreme metal scene is to breathe deeply of a torched dumpster filled with non-recyclable trash and medical grade marijuana then stumble into a (potentially vegan menu’d) sweat-box of doom amidst lingering ozone-kissed armpit odor before being left deaf and spiritually flattened. Wet dog musk and pocketed blunt finger-stink aside, the hills of our city remain pocked with inspiring venues owned by those who would champion outsiders and extremist musicians as kin and decorum alike. To be sure bands like Bell Witch and Samothrace have brought great inspiration to the extreme doom metal scene of Seattle this decade but the presence of bassist Dylan Desmond‘s The Highline offers incredible opportunity, exposure, and refuge to a constant string of quality extreme metal bands. I know, this isn’t meant as advertisement or testimonial but rather the setup for when I’d first moved here and saw funeral death/doom metal band Un whom I was under the impression were “Womb” thanks to a slightly drunk fellow with dreadlocks. A place that offers this sort of unforeseen discovery is truly a haven for extreme metal weirdos like me.
Although not immediately a fanatic I did eventually purchase ‘The Tomb of All Things’ (2015) and that album more or less served as the perfect, shining surrogate for funeral doom performances in between Lycus and Evoken releases. It was meek, purely atmospheric, and mildly focused on the post-rock influenced sort of funeral doom Bell Witch had begun to dive into beyond their earlier sludge groanings. Samothrace fittingly ties the two projects together with some alternating bass presence between them and yet Un make an intense and inspiring leap into their own with ‘Sentiment’. Less a follow-up and more an aggressive demand to be heard, this second Un release does more than enough to pile them in the same pit of despair with the rest of apex funeral doom related excess in 2018. It is absolutely one of the best funeral death/doom records in recent memory and overachieves with a bump of death’s burly heaviness.
‘Sentiment’ comes entirely unexpected when staying the course would have meant becoming softer and more thoughtful. Un suffer no fool leading an unexamined life as they growl and curse through four more extended funeral doom odes. This bold new self hurls its weight along an echo-friendly hallway of death that will immediately rub fans of ‘Quietus’-era Evoken and more recent Ahab (alternately Usnea) records into glorious ecstasy but with a more anxious pace and deeper-still death metal currents. For the already established fan this is simply bigger-and-better Un rearranged for effect and with greater fidelity; By the time you’ve hit upon the title track its cascading post-rock guitar guitar will remind that these are still the folk who impressed with ‘The Tomb of All Things’. So, what separates then and now? In 2015 I was asking “Where do they go from here?” and in 2018 I am stating that they have arrived upon something special. It is a grand improvement in both achieving funeral doom metal’s necessary melodrama and in reaching beyond that standard, they’ve composed this album at a sort of ‘g-spot’ pace to be enjoyed by funeral doom and death/doom metal fans alike.
To hit just slow enough a pace to feel the hollow droop of the dysthymic mind and yet create a sense of movement that holds rapt attention is a true art that many funeral doom projects can only hope to stumble upon through iteration. Every moment of ‘Sentiment’ feels even more directional than previous and to soar along the eaves of Un‘s barrel-chested growls, chiming leads and tailbone-breaking sustain is naturally cathartic. Otherworldly engaging stuff for a band that previously existed just within my periphery; I felt an immediate connection with ‘Sentiment’ and while that is no surprise when I’m faced with a funeral death/doom record, it held my attention beautifully for far more listens than seemed reasonable. Un‘s second record created a frightening stasis, a sort of purgatory for my own relentlessly bleak thought processes that wouldn’t release for weeks until I’d had to move onto other things. Monte McCleery‘s (Samothrace) vocal performance and huge guitar tone were a large part of this captive period and I don’t think I’ve heard an equally riveting growl in 2018.
What surprises me the most is, again, that Un didn’t simply double down on the atmospherics and resort to cloying sappiness or feigned melodrama so much as they created a record ten times heavier than previous. You’ll actually get less of the gooey ‘The Strength to Dream’ gloom and a bit more ‘The Monad of Creation’, and for my taste that rebalance was a great plus. The immensity of ‘Sentiment’ is thrilling enough as it insists upon a full listen and never lessens its waterlogged grip thanks to ‘modern’ pacing and a texturally lucid sound. A truly satisfying listen that was hard to exhaust. As such my recommendation is fairly high, every spin of this record was inspiring.
Shedding this threshold of humanity. 4.5/5.0
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