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Album Review: UNENDLICH Thanatophobia

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Melodic black metal is a weird and powerful genre. It's a genre that one can not only sink their teeth into but seems to revel in its own madness—due to its overwhelming musical approach. This latest offering from the Maryland cult Unendlich is no exception to this. It is a fitting statement to the strength of this genre and the scene as a whole. Despite some songwriting that feels like a bit of riff salad, this hodgepodge of ideas is overall still fairly enjoyable, if at times lacking direction. The breadth of what Thanatophobia accomplishes though is truly impressive. It speaks to the overarching power of the band and what the future could hold.

Conjuring up powerful atmospheres and darting between influences this is a special listen from a band who seem tapped into something otherworldly, even if their execution isn't always where it needs to be. As is though, fans of the genre will have a hard time denying the majesty of this band.

One thing that seems to really shine on this record is the overall quality of the ideas. There is clearly a very deep understanding of the genre on Thanatophobia. Though sometimes disparate parts feel a little bit condensed, the overall understanding of creating powerful music alone is really impressive. There are moments when the band puts together a truly potent song too. The shorter tracks, in particular, seem to cut a lot of the weight and hint at what this group could be.

I'm also a fan of the experimentation with atonality and the increased focus on the clean vocals. Both instances showcase skill and talent, and again, bode well for future work from Undendlich. The crushing might of the guitar riffs on a track like "My Own Misery" also speak to the searing power of what the band is capable of invoking when they so desire. When they play into more standard black metal tropes they do so very well, it just feels at times that the production doesn't quite do the end result justice.

At times this record sounds absolutely massive, at other times, it feels like Unendlich needs to focus more on progressing what they have set out to do. When it shines it truly shines, but other moments don't draw me in unfortunately. However, throughout this record, they show a wonderful understanding of what melodic black metal is supposed to be. The touches of Ulver in the cleans, Dissection in the bombast and Gorgoroth in the more frostbitten moments all testify to a band who can be much greater.

Thanatophobia is a record that seems to reflect on the sheer darkness of the human condition speaking to ever bleaker realities. You will be mesmerized and at times unable to turn away. As this band continues to grow and develop their execution—improving the atonality and doubling down on what makes them great—they can become true underground favorites.

Score: 7/10

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Shout out to photographer Rae Chatten.