Awaken the Black Flame
Review by Felix on September 17, 2023.
Unhallowed – this is not just the name of this new German force, but also an inspiration for their influence and style. As soon as the mighty opener and title track unfolds its melodic yet malignant elegance, I am standing “in the cold winds of nowhere” and I stare at the “black horizons”. Do I need to say more? Jon N. was probably one of the sickest minds in extreme metal ever, but his musical legacy lives on and so Unhallowed open the gates to broad landscapes. Whoever crosses them feels both pleasant shivers and oppressive horror at the same time. The smooth flow of the songs does not conceal the ingrained blackness of Unhallowed’s art. The intensive guitars build the basis for the dense sound. They flatten everything from time to time, but mostly they create great melody lines.
Okay, the outstanding size of the title track remains unrivalled, but it is not only the desperate and hellish 'Child Of Wrath' which has a lot to say as well. It sparks a maelstrom of emotions and takes the listener on a swashbuckling journey. Or take 'We Shall Reap', it’s nothing less than another very good ambassador of Awaken The Black Flame. Visions conveying guitar melodies meet a core of unyielding hardness. That’s just a very appealing combination. 'Toward The Abyss' shows that the musicians also do not shy away from pretty strict, thundering and double bass driven high-speed parts. Nevertheless, the song stays within the given frame of this debut.
The entire work results in a coherent impression, because Unhallowed see no sense in making risky experiments. I appreciate this attitude, because their style gives enough room for variation and although the band comes out of the blue, the musicians are able to use their options as cleverly as a bartender uses the cocktail shaker. Awaken The Black Flame scores with maturity, but it is not at the expense of vitality. The mix lacks a little differentiation and album does not sound modern, that’s true. Nevertheless, its aesthetics are not covered in cobwebs either. It marks both, a tribute to one of the most influential bands of the nineties and also an autonomous work whose quality is amazing in view of some almost magical melody lines. The only monotonous detail are the sinister, commanding vocals and honestly speaking: I don’t care. They are a stable factor in the sound of this debut and there are enough other bands that deliver clean, heroic or (God forbid!) female vocals. Therefore you will not be surprised that I can recommend this full-length, which is based on well-defined ambitions, with a clear conscience. Perhaps even the confused mind of Jon N., wherever he is now, will understand that this album is a worthy tribute to his memory.
Rating: 8 out of 1041