Among the earliest unholy trinity of viable Spanish death metal bands circa the early nineties, Mallorcan quartet Unbounded Terror were remarkable for their intuitive distillation of late 80’s death metal by way of grindcore’s punkish, slapping slaughterhouse rage. There was a little bit of everything feeding into the unique atmospheric intensity of their debut full-length (‘Nest of Affliction‘, 1992) thanks to a broad range of heavy influences informing its guitar work as well as their deployment of a drummer best known for his contribution to underground punk and hardcore scenes nearby. The keystone of their sound and vision was guitarist Vicente Payá and his decision to focus on the maudlin Paradise Lost influenced death/doom of Golgotha meant Unbounded Terror was quietly shelved and ceased not long after their debut had released on Drowned Productions. None of the barriers for full-circle resurrection exist today beyond inspiration and time; As such many of these dormant and under-appreciated classics now boil in the minds of esoteric and obscure extreme metal fandom — It is the perfect time to reappear and see if the engine might be worth reigniting. 2019 bore the fruits of Golgotha‘s reformation with ‘Erasing the Past’ and now at the start of 2020 we’re treated to the second Unbounded Terror full-length, ‘Faith in Chaos’, an album that answers the call to follow up an obscure, almost naively brilliant Spanish death metal classic nearly three decades later. An impossible feat, sure, but Payá and this new line-up have written a solid death metal record nonetheless.
The original sound of Unbounded Terror was brutal, raw, and just ‘off’ enough to feel like an outsider release. Though certain songs were clearly influenced by early Death, Autopsy and Carcass, local underground extreme thrash and deathgrind of that era did influence riffs and abrupt structuring on those early releases. The bands that I’d include in the aforementioned ‘trilogy’ would include Feretrum and Necrophilia so if I was to consider those bands as referential markers Unbounded Terror were heavier, a more intuitive grasp of what was current and brilliant about extreme music local and worldwide in the early 90’s. It is an impossible task to recreate a 1991 sound today without sounding disingenuous or removing the evolution of the musicians involved since, in fact only Payá remains from those early days. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a direct follow-up to ‘Nest of Affliction’, and ‘Faith in Chaos’ isn’t one. Instead Unbounded Terror sound like a modest coalition of current ‘new old school’ feeling bands and a halfway there style of riffing that fits squarely in the ‘modern but not plain’ groove metal influenced realm of death metal today. Comparisons with Memoriam, Purtenance, Grisly, and Unbounded Terror‘s old school compatriots Obscure (who’ve likewise revived) all offer a good sense of the bulbous guitar tone and staggered groove-focused death that Unbounded Terror now bring.
“Hiding From the Light” opens the album with a mid-paced banger, a reasonably heavy jog that immediately resembled Rogga Johansson‘s pure death metal side-projects thanks to its slightly ‘digital’ guitar tone and moderate speed. The trailing Finndeath guitar solo characterizes the song and helps make a solid first impression for ‘Faith in Chaos’. From that point the momentum drains from the full listening experience, shoving a lot of very plain and basic riffs towards the second half of the tracklist. “Insidious” feels like a struggle as it drags on and the punkish post-’93 Master vibe of “Destroyed From Within” after it took some patience as I returned to the album for several spins. Side B picks it up a bit initially as the next 2-3 songs begin to resemble Unbounded Terror‘s first album in spirit thanks to some greater variation and more active drumming but the last few songs on ‘Faith in Chaos’ fall flat. The jogging-in-place pace sections of “Through the Flesh We Will Reach Hell” and “Engulfed by the Gods” leave the finale of this ‘comeback’ record sounding exhausted and uninspired. The good stuff largely outweighs the bad but there are a few straight up bad riffs on the record that stuck out more as I dug deeper into ‘Faith in Chaos’. The expectation for a ‘return from the dead’ is that it will either sound ancient or well-evolved across the expanse of time but this record occasionally felt like it was struggling to work up to modern ‘new old school’ death metal standards, which are honestly extremely low compared to 1992.
As much as it sounds like I’m dogging on ‘Faith in Chaos’ I did enjoy this reintroduction to Unbounded Terror as a straight death metal record that comes in a very specific tradition and ‘old school’ sensibility. There are bright glimpses of early Immolation, Finnish death metal revival, and some blasting double-bass grinders that make for a varied and textural set of riffs (see: “Silent Soul”) that only get clunky when things slow down. A moderate recommendation from me this time, the overall package is satisfying but deeper dives into the moment-to-moment listening experience were slightly unfocused and plain.
Moderate recommendation. 3.25/5.0
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