“Epic” is a word that’s thrown around pretty haphazardly these days. Cinematic, widescreen experiences pass by us so often now that when a truly affecting artistic statement overwhelms from out of nowhere it’s refreshing to be taken back to a time when pop culture was consistently surprising. From the frozen wastes of Canada comes such a statement.
Not typically known for its black metal bonafides, our neighbor to the north can be just as frozen and desolate as the mighty Norway where the darkest of heavy subgenres was born, and channeling the very deepest despair and sorrow of the often misunderstood art is Unreqvited, who recently released a debut EP, “Disquiet”, that runs the gamut of emotional devastation so deftly and courageously as to truly be defined as “epic”.
Unreqvited is the sonic onslaught of a single man known only as 鬼, the Japanese kanji for the word “ghost”. 鬼 lives up to the moniker in the haunting way that his compositions drift from sorrow to outrage, from scorn to something approaching triumph, and back again with deft concern for maximum approachability and listenability. 鬼 handles all songwriting, performance, engineering, mixing and mastering making his purpose and prowess as clear as possible.
Unreqvited’s attack deploys with beautiful instrumentation on “Birth”, continuing the basic melodies into “The Autumn Fire”, where the preciousness of the aural presentation fades into dread, employing a Burzum-esque howl over shredded guitars and primal blast beats, pianos and orchestral instrumentation eventually rising over the cacophony to end on a note of utter hopelessness.
Title track “Disquiet” churns over anguished screams in a tense, breathless haze of uncertainty, leading to purely instrumental sound collage “A Tear From The Dark”, with eerie, atmospheric synths. “An Ocean of Ire” may be my favorite track on the record, fear rising slowly with spare guitars and synths into a full on old school thrash assault, then segueing into the near triumphant tone of longer form nightmare “Mydena” just as cleverly as “Birth” had into “The Autumn Fire”. Album closer “Death” proves a fitting end in both form and function, a synthetic, orchestral, power metal dirge calling to mind Final Fantasy composer Nobou Uematsu’s best work with his hard rock side project The Black Mages.
The Final Fantasy connection seems particularly apt. To put it in the most inelegant terms possible, 鬼’s output registers like really great , low fi, organic and genuine classic black metal crossed with a fantastic anime/video game soundtrack from the late 90’s/early 2000’s golden age of eastern development. But in the end Unreqvited’s greatest achievement is in the emotional investment, the captivating peril and the satisfying payoff, hammering it’s message home like only the most devastating of metal and bombastic of classical can. “Disquiet” signals the arrival of a peerless auteur in the landscape of modern extreme music.
Unreqvited’s “Disquiet” is available now.