By Dr. Abner Mality

Pure primal sludge is Unearthly Trance's stock in trade so expect nothing else when you clap ears on "V". I'm hard pressed to name another band whose sound sums up what the word "sludge" actually means in musical terms. But despite that archetypal feeling, this particular release left me feeling a bit empty.

Simplicity is a very fine line to walk in the metal world. Certainly by stripping heavy music down to its bare essentials, you can create powerful, memorable music. But cut out just a wee bit too much and brutality can transform to banality. I thought a lot of the songs on "V" were so basic that they slipped right out of my mind. Nowhere can I quibble with the heaviness and thickness of the Unearthly sound, but "Submerged Metropolis", "Into A Chasm" and "Adversaries Mask 1" just seemed too much like other dismal down-tuned dirges I've heard. Let's face it, sludge is now a pretty good sized genre and you've got to be sharp to stand out from the crowd. And on some of these tunes, Unearthly Trance just doesn't.

However, I was grinded to pulp by the awesomely turgid "Sleeping While They Feast" and the super catchy "Tesla Effect". "V" is far from a bad or ineffective album, just one that's uneven and not really breaking from the pack. Sludge fiends will enjoy, others should approach with caution.