Band – Un
Album – Sentiment
Country of Origin – USA
Genre – Funeral Death/Doom
Release Date – September 28th, 2018
Label – Translation Loss Records
Author – Johnny The Fox
Imagine a grey, austere sky overlooking a dark, verdant forest. It is late autumn, the trees silently purging themselves for the impending freeze. A lonely, crestfallen man is kneeling before a solitary wooden cross. In his mind, a haunting threnody reprises the memory of a most solemn funeral procession. All feels cold. All feels ponderous. All is lost.
On Sentiment, Seattle-based funeral death/doomsters Un have recorded a self-described tribute to all those who struggle with the weight of their own existence. The bleak concept is not a purely lyrical one; rather, the totality of Un’s music embodies the essence of dark emotion. Their music is indeed brutal, austere, and melancholy. But it is also remarkably beautiful and cleansing in a way that only somber music can truly deliver. For the most part, Un have succeeded in their sorrowful goal.
On one hand, labeling Un’s music as melodic death metal is quite misleading, as the utter lack of speed and joyful anger on display here belies the term. However, this is still a melodic album despite the bludgeoning, downtuned brutality of the riffs, the old-school guttural death growls, and tortoise-crawl tempos. Sentiment balances this inherently bleak sense of melancholy by consistently interweaving clean-guitar arpeggios and soaring, gorgeous leads. There is a natural sort of equilibrium here that is nothing short of breathtaking.
Take opening cut, “In Its Absence,” for instance: an arpeggiated and reverb-driven clean-guitar intro masterfully paves the way for a cascade of torturously-slow riffs and the brutal, nearly indecipherable growls of vocalist/guitarist Monte McCleery. These vocals undoubtedly fit Un’s style, as does the deliberate drum beats of Alex Bytnar, and the soulful and über-melodic leads of David Wright. Sentiment’s innate dynamism perhaps us best exemplified on “Pools of Reflection,” which features angelic female vocals in the interlude and a welcome, albeit brief, double-time riff.
Granted, Un isn’t for everyone or for every mood. Their ponderous tempos and relentlessly dismal atmosphere, as well as the excessive song lengths (the shortest clocks in at 11:55), can become tiresome. Taken as a conglomerate, Sentiment tends to blend together as one long song as opposed to being four distinct and memorable tracks.
Still, fans of early My Dying Bride, Entombed, and Edge of Sanity should wallow at Un’s melancholy altar. Doom on!
-Highlights: “In Its Absence,” “Pools of Reflection.”