Black Sun Unbound
Coming straight out of Australia is Denouncement Pyre, one of the more buzzed about black/death bands. Boasting a sound that’s somewhere between Watain and Behemoth while blazing their own charred trail, the band have been steadily improving their craft, though that momentum seems to be coming to a halt with their third. Black Sun Unbound feels incomplete and lacking not because it’s terrible, but because it feels unfinished in a different way from most blackened metal. The production quality is honestly about as perfect as you could expect, with everything coming through very clearly yet with a neat little haze to it. Almost as if you were wearing night vision goggles at an underground Satanic candle-lit service (I’m a bit hazy on my Satanic lingo).
The problem comes through in the smoothness of the band’s songwriting. First, the riffs from D and M are consistently solid to excellent, with just the right mix of thrashiness and off-kilter melody. D’s vocals are a solid mix of a pre-cleared throat and Abbath, and the rhythm section does a good job of keeping up. However, that’s really the problem with a lot of these songs: they feel like sections strewn together for convenience more than coherent thoughts. Look at “Scars Adorn the Whore in Red” (side note: are there any feminists in black metal?), where stop and start riff and rhythm patterns awkwardly transition among themselves and break up what could have been a more enjoyable track. It’s like they forgot to smooth things out, and, sure, that may be the appeal for some, but when you start off with the excellent “Deathless Dreaming”, the choppiness feels much more prevalent and problematic. From their solid back catalog, we know the band is certainly capable of much more.
So that’s what we’re left with: a promising blackened death band not quite delivering on their promise. Again, nothing on Black Sun Unbound is actually bad, and much of it is quite good. Yet, it all feels a bit too disjointed to create maximum impact.