Speaking of Europe’s blackened hardcore dealings I’m finally catching up on what Unru have been arranging after Forever Cursed alerted me to them early last year. A more virulent and darker version of Deadguy and Botch’s legacy wrapped in a thick, soiled black metal cocoon and strangles until its noisy death gasps escape.
And after that there are still some pleasant surprised that reside in its less accessible reaches: this review will deal with a pressing which contains a significant and more experimental hidden ritual on the second side, larger than their recent collaborations with Sun Worship in some sense.
I also think this will relate nicely not only with a few up coming reviews but also with the previous post on France’s Death Engine. Like them, Germany’s Unru forge trenchant blades of hardcore that break off from the usual efforts and climb into darker, unexplored territory with the small light of the past to keep them steady. The separate in approaches remains fairly wide.
Since Germany has always and a strong black metal and punk scene it seems pretty natural that the two would be clasped together at some point in that environment; indeed combinations creative minds find for such diverse and dynamic genres have influenced many outside them.
Here Unru show a different way to combine two aspects of the genres which get abused to no end. The four piece use chaotic hardcore along the lines of early Botch or the newer Seizures to set the tone at the start of this demo, and it’s laced intricately around the harsh gusts of spiteful black metal.
They manage to competently handle a more ritualistic noise branch of their sound between each song bringing a billowing, eerie fog to chill the air before another attack.
The interesting part is this doesn’t result in anything near the same sound as for example Ancst, Planks or in the US Thenn, Voidforger, Black Monolith Shit Luck, etc. The more complex moments may be related to France’s Nesseria maybe but again it’s a powerful difference in practice.
The comparison to Young And In The Way is valid to a degree (early songs like ‘Aber waren die…’ for example) especially in imagery and some of the brief pangs in later songs — but they even blow by those crust demons’ increasingly popular style for one oriented closer to a more ghostly Great Falls.
A key dividing point for them from others in the arena. They express this in a more drawn out form on their split with the Sun Worship who are pure black metal, and its made clearer there that they have no intention of staying boxed in.
Enigmatic as is necessary in this stream, their efforts form twenty six minutes of this raw, steeping style: six core tracks with five ambient interludes.
A swirling and metallic interlude smelling of YAITW slowly ebbs upward frighteningly into the first song ‘Ich bin der Hexenmeister with the last riff setting the tone. Chaos erupts in two distinct blasts following each other as the hissing yells echo into existence. Then a variation as the blown out drums hammer ceaselessly.
The first slow gap indicates the rare form of groove they can get into, and it breaches the resilient darkness once more at the end, mutating into something chunkier.
Into a fade and the second abyssal interlude, reverberating remnants of the last song in a subtle loop. ‘Aber waren die, die schrien, die wuchsen?’ interrupts with a slower, sharp series of flashes which falls into dirtier, crustier terirtory somewhat like Hungry Lungs.
When it rolls back to those earlier segments they climb a bit more in harmony and are suddenly released into the third (and shortest) break. This one has a little creep to it until the feedback ramps up for ‘Zerleben und die Zeit’.Clouded fury that on the outset uses a bit more of that YAITW edge to mystify things, then quickly into a brawl
On this song the black metal takes a stronger hold both in the first few moments as it possesses that vulnerable hardcore dirge, and later as it transforms that moment into something stormy. It leaves with only the desperate sinking rasps of the vocalist.
Not butressed by an interlude we find ‘Es schiebt sich zwischen uns, wie Schatten’ which takes what small doses of black metal that were used so far and goes into overdrive with it. Strong, blaring tremolo riffs and clanging, blasting percussion reach a sick climax before being broken by a gallop. The last quarter brings that previously mentioned rare dirge back, the bass taking the lead as it decays and builds back to a clubbing pace again.
Straight into Zwischen Ungeheuern und dem Möglichen with no regard for the black metal just heard, just angular flashes and eventually soured and rusted fits that resemble more traditional hardcore arrangements; still so dispirit with those harsh lashings by the vocalist.
A howling interlude breaks the action through cycling grain and feedback, leading to ‘Geh in einen See bei Nacht’ which brings another cold gale of their black influence. Getting pummeled at the end by a serious metallic groove. The retching gasps really stand out compared to some of the more generic styles found in these kinds of experiments.
The final entry of the US pressing’s first side has a more peaceful outro compared to the others, single notes drifting in silence for just above a minute.
Alright. So the Euro tape from Colossus Tapes (as detailed below) comes with an untitled drone-like track on the second side so the versions don’t just differ in design and availability which is a nice touch. The longest piece of material from them in fact approaching thirty minutes in its wavering drone.
This is where things get more interesting, and we see a talent beyond sparse interlude arrangements on the first side, competent as those may be.
This is a quiet rise from a ringing, cavernous echo that just after a minute drops a slithering, static drowned bass line; almost having a phaser effect. It almost drowns out the ringing on the first pass but the second wave shit on both ends begins bulging. Once the ebb dies that thick ring is left alone for one more moment before an even more warped and sluggish crest approaches.
What it leaves in its wake is a lower looped hum for a time, and slowly softer textures take over. Mutating only slightly with a shimmer or swell and also the ascent of cymbals on this mystery ritual’s careful, uncanny odyssey.
The foreboding last minutes feel so cold and isolated. Just as you think it’s coming to a close the rattling, shaking, clicks from drum sticks, sharp reverb saturated notes and a distinct bassy throb begin building.
Bleak, chasmic, and oppressive as this point is, this leads to a gasp of silence where the sharp notes are left to themselves. In the background the percussion comes in tribal tom strikes and a droning ‘aun’ shakes the foundational noise. A shuddering collapse on the guitar end as things spiral noisily louder, the drumming keeps steady for a time then drops out as the wailing notes shoot into the darkness.
This is repeated a second time, leaving the listener completely obscured by enchanting as things finally level in waves. Left with minimal feedback draining with the hollow, metallic howls, it’s a strong trek through ambient experimentation.
With the addition of this song you get an idea as to what they may be into during and after their split with Sun Worship, and it’s promising. I think this extra actually significantly increases the quality of this already absorbing gem. It’s also not a drone track I had trouble keeping hold on as it contains enough movement or variation to capture attention, neither does it feel ‘plunked’ there for no good reason.
UNRU’s demo is pretty fuckin sick to say the least. As you dig deeper into it I was impressed to find they did not fall into the copycat crowd and have a drive towards something magnetic and brackish. This demo was an excellent and hushed release in last years record mountain.
As you can see it is a beautiful set of tapes each with different covers and design. One is the US Caligari Records press: black tape with a gloss grey print on either side and a thick multi-gatefold insert (limited to 100).
The other is the Euro press by Colossus Tapes who put it on thicker but not gatefold grey cardboard and the numbers etched in either side of the flat black tape (limited to between 60 and 100, undisclosed). Sealed with a clear sticker too. This the normal version, not the super limited one sold at shows.
If you enjoy these kinds of sounds I encourage you to head over to Caligari Records or bandcamp to support these guys. Colossus Tapes has sold out of the European version I believe so some people may be out of luck on that.