Reviewed by: Eric Strother
I’m sure you are familiar with the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but there should be a musical analogue to this: never judge an album by the band’s name. You see, I must admit I have long resisted listening to the band Christageddon simply because I cannot stand the name. I’ve read the explanation and I understand where the band is coming from, but still…I can’t stand the name. So when the person in charge of reviews here at Untombed put out a request for someone to write a review of the band’s full-length debut Metal Unblack, I reluctantly said if no one else wanted it, I would do it. So when the files came to my inbox, I quickly downloaded them and decided to just listen and write this quickly and be done with it. That was before I started listening.
I was immediately won over by the music. The riffs, the drumming, and the vocals are exactly what I look for in traditional unblack metal. That’s what this is; old-school unblack metal. No synthesizers simulating strings or choirs, just straight-up guitar, bass, drums, and blackened vocals. All of it tight and expertly performed. I have tried to pick a song or two that clearly stands out as particularly well-done, but I really cannot; they are all excellent. I’m not just talking about the ten original tracks either. There are seven cover songs that form an homage to the originators of unblack metal, Horde, and its seminal album, Hellig Usvart. I doubt these covers could be any more faithful to the originals if they had been recorded by Anonymous himself.
The original songs mesh perfectly with the twenty-year-old Horde tracks, as they are written with the same old-school unblack approach to lyrics. They are songs that glorify Christ while taking the fight right to Satan. As the opening track (“At the Dawn of War”) proclaims, “Crush the head of Satan/All hail the Lord Jesus Christ.” Each song is bathed in Scripture. Rarely is it quoted directly, but there is not a line that is not clearly drawn from it. Even the original instrumental “Satanic Forces Burned to Ashes” is annotated with Scripture in the lyric sheet. One of the standard criticisms of extreme metal is that vocal style makes it impossible to understand the words being sung. Richard’s vocals are full-on black metal vocals, but are still clear enough to allow the listener to understand the lyrics.
In summary, Metal Unblack is a great album! Dare I call it a masterpiece? I think I do. I cannot find anything I would consider a flaw on this album. Even the cover art and the layout of the booklet is well done. As for the actual musical product: seventeen tracks of top-notch, old-school unblack metal clocking in around 74 minutes. These guys really give listeners their money’s worth. So, at the end of the day, I would like to thank the rest of the review staff for not responding to the request for a reviewer, otherwise I would have missed out on this outstanding album. I still do not like the band’s name, but as long as it keeps cranking out songs like these, it doesn’t matter what these guys call themselves, I’ll be right there to give them my money.