There’s a sequence about halfway through “Lion Strength”, the epic anchor to NYC Doom stalwarts Unearthly Trance’s new LP “Stalking The Ghost”, where each instrument slowly fades out over the same repeating composition, vocalist Ryan Lipynsky’s ominous call of “Listen to the voice of fire” a haze over the proceedings, halting to near silence before roaring back to life, his vocals now untamed outrage with grandiose guitar soling and an incredibly crunchy bassline to match. A triumph of both form and function.
These monumental songwriting chops are all over “Stalking The Ghost”, taking the expected sorrow and despair of your typical doom outing and melding it with fist pumping arena rock bravado, like a scarier, more pissed off Baroness and with vaguely occult lyrical imagery and some seriously unhinged noise rock tinged guitar work (also from Lipynsky) just to make everything even more strange and foreboding.
Lipynsky’s vocals switch between a growling croon and a more incensed hardcore-esque shout that seems to alternate at perfect intervals depending on the demands of the musical accompaniment, even morphing into a particularly impressive blood curdling howl when the circumstances demand it (the outro of personal favorite “Dream State Arsenal”). Bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni conjure an appropriately apocalyptic low end, though the band isn’t afraid to get downright harmonic and catchy, as on the chorus of “Scythe”, which never feels pandering or takes anything away from the truly crushing punishment of tracks like “Famine” and opener “Into The Spiral”.
The shoegaze-y and depressive end of the doom spectrum can be an excellent place to wallow in from time to time, but that’s not happening here, as Unearthly Trance blend classic metal fundamentals and thrashy prog experimentation into a crowd pleasing arena doom breath of fresh air. Like the Sabbath and Pentagram exemplars of old, “Stalking The Ghost” is a doom record that you won’t feel guilty about headbanging to. As a matter of fact you might feel guilty about not headbanging to it. And throw up the horns as well while you’re at it.
“Stalking The Ghost” is available now.