Unanimated – Annihilation – EP Review

Unanimated_-_Annihilation_EP_-_Cover

Artist: Unanimated

Album Title: Annihilation EP

Label: Century Media Records

Date of Release: August 2018

A rare quicker, shorter review here, as I am faced with a new EP, the first new material from Unanimated since 2009. Long heralded as one of the originators of the classic Swedish melodic death/black metal sound, I am pleased that they have returned to the land of the living to bring us some kind of follow-up to ‘In The Light of Darkness’. Despite being an early protagonist within a genre that I generally really enjoy, Unanimated have never been top of my list. However, I always sit up and take notice when I hear the name mentioned.

‘Annihilation’ is the title of this four-track EP that is a precursor to an upcoming full-length, due to be released late 2018 or early 2019. Stylistically, it is very similar to what we were served up via their aforementioned 2009 album. By that, I mean that this a dirty and ugly affair, full of underground menace and savage intent.

However, what is quite noticeable here, is that there seems to be a gentle increase in the black metal quota this time around. Whether that continues on the upcoming full album, or it’s a sadistic red herring, we will have to wait and see. However, that’s the feeling I get when listening to the 20 minutes of material on the aptly-named ‘Annihilation’.

Unanimated_-_Annihilation_EP_-_Bandphoto

From the very beginning, via a frenetic drum roll intro, we’re treated to some full-on aggression. ‘Adversarial Fire’ features plenty of scything riffs, a frenetic rhythm section and lots of those ice-cold black metal-inspired fast-picked lead guitar harmonies and malevolent melodies, topped off by those classic gruff vocals dredged from the underworld. Or so it seems at any rate. What’s really great about this track is that it demonstrates a great change of pace towards the end, closing with a stomping, groove-laden section, laced with a wonderfully ominous lead guitar melody. It demonstrates the power that Unanimated can generate whatever their speed of delivery.

‘From a Throne Below’ is, if anything, even more aggressive at the outset, led my faster riffs and even more potent drumming that threatens to spiral out of control. The speed does decrease a little as the tack changes to create space for a more expansive lead guitar solo, before a further, more appreciable slowing from all concerned to allow some dark, cloying atmosphere into the composition. The more I listen to this track, the more I fall for its many charms, particularly the way it flits so effortlessly from all-out speedy pummelling, to a more ponderous attack.

By contrast, ‘Of Fire And Obliteration’ is something of a pause for breath. Ushered in by Dissection-like acoustic guitars, it has a beautiful understated sense of melody and inner beauty. It is rife with atmosphere too, only built upon by some vocals that are part spoken-word, part chanting. The intensity grows as the piece develops and ultimately it’s a wonderful interlude to the devastation surrounding it.

Speaking of devastation, the thrash-like riff that breathes life into the title track is tremendous. From there the song descends into a barely controlled maelstrom of swirling staccato riffs, breakneck drumming and further evil vocals. And yet, for all the fury, fire and brimstone, there is melody to be heard and eventually, the pace slackens off, albeit only momentarily.

‘Annihilation’ has done everything that the band will have hoped it would – it has reminded me and the wider extreme metal world that Unanimated are back. More than that, it has signalled loud and clear that the band have not missed a beat in their near-decade absence. I can’t wait for the new album now and I suspect many more of you will feel the same way once you hear this nasty, dirty and depraved, yet strangely majestic EP.

The Score of Much Metal: 8.0

(not taken from this EP)

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

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