“Stalking The Ghost”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Unearthly Trance have always been a hit and miss band for me. Devastatingly heavy when they are “on”, routine and forgettable when “off”. “Stalking The Ghost” sees some experimentation with their basic sludge sound, but the on/off paradigm continues.

They are one of the oldest sludge bands around and predate the vast majority of players in that sphere. When they open with the crushing and very memorable “Into The Spiral”, I was thinking this might be the album where UT clicks. It’s a great catchy song. The oppression continues with “Dream State Arsenal” and “Scythe”, but they start to lose me with the rather average “Famine”. In the last minute, this tune switches into another killer riff but too late to save the song.

From there, the band starts to experiment, which is not a bad idea, but the experimentation has to work.  “Lion Strength” brings some psychedelia and abstract dissonance into the fray but just doesn’t catch the ear with any hooks. “Invisible Butchery” is pure raw sludge sounding like it could have come from Unearthly Trance’s “sister” band Serpentine Path with its primal simplicity. It’s ultraheavy but taxing to the nerves. The album epic “The Great Cauldron” covers a lot of territory and is generally pretty effective. The album ends with the ominous mellow tones of “In The Forests Keep”, where the band again tries for a more experimental sound. It’s moody enough, that’s for sure.

So a fairly solid sludge album again from Unearthly Trance but not the breakout I keep expecting from them.