Notes From Underground

Album Review: UNGRAVEN – Language of Longing

Black Bow Records | 01 March 2019

UngravenMost know Jon Davis as the front man for über-elite Doom outfit Conan.  Since that band formed back in 2006 as a two-piece, they have released four full-lengths including last year’s massively primitive, raging Existential Void Guardian.  Hailing from Liverpool, quality riffs and songwriting is evidently present in the DNA.  Wanting a change in pace, Davis worked on this project, in effect exorcising some demons.  They were evidently some pretty high-level supernatural evil emissaries for this record is a definite testament to wanting to pursue a different direction.  Davis has been forthcoming in his comments about the record, name-dropping Nailbomb, Godflesh, and Bathory among others as contributing to the headspace that produced this five-song debut, and all can be clearly heard in the mix.  The end result, though, is a creature all his own, foaming at the mouth to be let out of its cage and terrorize indiscriminately.

Upon pressing play, it is immediately obvious who was responsible for the creation of this effort.  It is like a childlikeness so close to the parent to deem it undeniable.  The record begins fiercely with the track “Blackened Gates of Eternity”.  Clearly, Davis has retained his signature mammoth-sized tone promulgated by tons and tons of fuzz.  The guitar commands the listener militantly forcing one’s attention with its swaths of apocalyptic fury.  The sound is so massive, in fact, that the guitar sounds like it is imbibing all the available oxygen simply by the sheer amount of sound it is moving.  The programmed drums definitely convey the 90s Industrial Metal influence.

The third track, “Aggro Master,” is punishing.  With a commanding foundation of syncopated double bass drums blasting, layers upon layers of guitar create a wall of sound more oppressive than a fundamentalist Middle Eastern dictator.  When the guitar chords converge on one note, what would be palm muting for other bands, becomes a ritualistic sonic beat down.  Already only three tracks in, this album is more consistent than many of the releases – excluding Bathory, of course – that Davis referenced as influential.  There is a clear sound, yes, but the five different songs are indeed five different songs.  The final track, “Targetted,” has a pummeling groove somewhat akin to the work of Conan.  It is that kind of sick groove like a Crowbar riff that takes over one’s face essentially restructuring the features to mirror those of an overly-stimulated, seriously-afflicted mental health patient – truly the mark of a successful tune in this genre!

No one can deny that sometimes one needs a break from all-consuming projects.  Clearly, Davis’s was much-deserved, and he used the time wisely and economically.  Any fan of Conan could certainly find in this a similar ethos to what they have grown to love.  Fortunately, there will be some new fans to be garnered from this different zip code of material.  After such a scorching listen, one must definitely concur to the desire for this project to become a regular entity.  The public is sure to demand more.

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