Unholy first appeared on the hardcore radar in late 2004 when demo recordings from the band surfaced on the Internet. While many may have gotten caught up in the members previous bands - Another Victim, Santa Sangre, Godbelow, The Promise, and just about every other Syracuse hardcore band from the past ten years - others let the music do the talking. While I cant deny my love for the underrated Santa Sangre and Godbelow or the short-lived Another Victim, the music of Unholy is a whole other beast. Three years down the road, and after the release of an EP, Unholy unleash their debut full-length, Blood of the Medusa, via Lambgoat Records.
Unholy begin their first long-player with your standard intro affair, New Faith. The song is a building of guitars and drums, which quicken in pace and intensity as the song reaches its end and blasts into Variola. The song feels like the first punch in a fight: it stings a bit, but then your adrenaline gets pumping and youre ready to rumble. The riffs of Jonathan Dennison and Steve Caiello are definitely more metal than what weve heard from their previous ventures. Partnered with the rhythm section, the music gives off a definite Disembodied feel. Vocally, Danny Johnson spits venomous words in a style falling somewhere between the Human Furnace and Scott Kelly.
Unholy punish your ears and pummel your body as they make their way through Blood of the Medusa. Certain songs highlight the band members hardcore past - Rise of Sarnath, Touch of Death, and Where Angels Fear - while others opt for a more metal approach - Blood of the Medusa and Oblivion. Several tracks from the bands demo and debut EP appear here in re-recorded form. Its nice to have superior recordings of these cuts, but part of me also wishes there were a tad more new songs on the album. The album also features guest vocals from seasoned hardcore frontmen Karl Buechner (Earth Crisis/Path of Resistance) and Bruce LaPage (100 Demons).
Lyrically, Johnson delves into apocalyptic/Holy Terror territory, which isnt really surprising. A good portion of the albums lyrics concentrate on the theme of death and decay. A good example is this excerpt from Beyond the Shroud:
Say hello to Hell / Follow the entrails of life as you know it / That said, farewell / And then crawled away to where the flat-line meets the flame / This doomsday will bring a plague that will infect you / This doomsday will bring a plague
Interestingly, the album is broken up into three parts, each with its own title: dirt, decay, and demise. Each part is accompanied by short prose and then the lyrics for the corresponding songs for each part. I dont think this means the album is a concept album by any means, just further insight for the lyrics. Visually, the album has a good look as well: colorful cover, weird art/painting, and a choice quote from a well-known author - H.P. Lovecraft. All of which come together with the original theme of death on the album.
Unholy has delivered one heck of a slab of punishing hardcore/metal goodness. If youre sick of hearing generic metal or are just bummed out on hardcores staleness, then grab yourself a copy of Blood of the Medusa. Your ears will be treated to forty-plus minutes of headbanging goodness.
8.5 / 10
Posted Oct. 5, 2004, 3:05 p.m.
Lair of the Minotaur, a band that features members of 7000 Dying Rats and Pelican, will be hosting a record release show October 8th in Chicago at The Empty Bottle ...
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