Unholy (FIN)
From the Shadows


4.5
superb

Review

by noisymugwump USER (30 Reviews)
October 27th, 2009 | 59 replies | 5,890 views


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Unholy are a seminal Finnish doom metal band formed in 1990 (originally formed in 1988 under the name Holy Hell) who are known for pushing the second wave death/doom sound into territories that would help define the "atmospheric" death/doom and funeral doom subgenres that arose in the mid 90s. Beginning as juvenile, stripped down ugly death/doom, they quickly diverged into a more original style featuring stumbling, plodding, sometimes jangly off-kilter rhythms, eerie mystical synths, and a strange ancient aesthetic. Their unique songwriting and composition have set them apart from the majority of doom metal, but key elements of their style have been replicated by many doomers since. Their 1993 debut "From the Shadows" exemplifies their early style, focusing on bludgeoning sub end rhythms with all of their weirdo idiosyncrasies being fully explored. It is an undeniably essential release for any death/doom, "atmospheric" doom, or funeral doom freak, and has been consistently hailed as a classic since its release.

Unholy's sound is very complex and rich. The rhythm guitar churns in with an immensely low tone, while the other instruments unfold around that hideous backbone. In some songs the rhythm is so pounding, ugly and fuzzed out it bears a resemblance to drone doom (see the opening riff of "Stench of Ishtar"). But rather than crawling at a consistent pace, they have a tendency to ooze into more strange and subtly complex arrangements, which is where the drums and bass fill out their sound to its full potential. Bassist/singer Pasi Äijö contributes a great deal to the band's unsettling arcane style. He uses a clean tone and clanks in behind the monolithic rhythms in a sort of awkward way. Rather than simply crunching along, he prefers to create a second backbone of sparse jangly weirdness, causing an interesting interplay. Also, the drummer isn't one for simply primitively smashing. He plays in a more clean distinct fashion, using some off-time beats and working alongside the guitar and bass very well. The way the album is mixed makes the three elements of the rhythm clearly discernible, which accentuates their unique sound perfectly.

At the higher end we find the lead guitars and synths, which offset the super low rhythm section. Unholy's leads tend to be off-kilter and dissonant with kind of an Egyptian flare (which may seem cheesy to guitarists, but it works into their ancient themes). They also foray into the more slow "mournful" leads that follow a dismal plodding rhythm (this is largely where Unholy contributed to funeral doom). The synths may be off-putting to some, as these guys aren't above using a cheesy effect to add to their more mystical sounding riffs. However, the synth parts tend to not be overbearing and are used sparsely, and many would insist that they serve their purpose well.

Finally, onto the vocals. Mr. Äijö, the creator and frontman of the group has not only a highly distinct style in his bass playing, but also delivers a bizarre jarring vocal performance. He screams, rasps, growls, bellows and vomits obscenely. His delivery is forceful, spastic, abrupt and harsh. He also uses clean vocals from time to time (such as in the opening of "Gray Blow" or the end of "Passe Tiermes"), and his austere chant-like delivery and thick Finnish accent make those great as well. His talents are largely what set Unholy apart as an interesting and important group.

Unholy were truly something special in the early 90s when they released their masterful debut, as well as their 1994 follow-up "The Second Ring of Power". Their style is full of bizarre intricacies, their production is incredibly fitting, and their composition and songwriting are highly distinct. Their influence on post-second wave doom (specifically funeral doom and the foofier varieties of death/doom) is clear, although their significance lies solely in their material, as none of their contemporaries or proteges could approach their greatness (except of course the other 90s doom gods Esoteric, but this reviewer would rather worship the two of them separately than compare them). Any doom fanatic should already be well versed in the gospel of Unholy, but for all those unlearned swine, give this album a gander. Fans of Esoteric, diSEMBOWELMENT, Thergothon, Skepticism and other 90s doom (more on the death/doom and early funeral doom side of the spectrum) should love it. Let us all pay homage to the hallucinating ancient sub end wacky weirdos UNHOLY.



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user ratings (19)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Blindsided
October 27th 2009



1871 Comments


Way to post this under the wrong Unholy.

Roach
October 27th 2009



2149 Comments


He didn't. Read the band blurb.

noisymugwump
October 27th 2009



103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I swapped out the hardcore Unholy because that's some unimportant band. I'm not gonna add Unholy (Fin) or something.

Blindsided
October 27th 2009



1871 Comments


Yeah he did. That page was created by me for the other Unholy, hence why their album is on the page. You can't just add the album and expect people to notice the switch. That band info was edited Roach.

Roach
October 27th 2009



2149 Comments




I swapped out the hardcore Unholy because that's some unimportant band. I'm not gonna add Unholy (Fin) or something.


rofl

you're a pretty great user

noisymugwump
October 27th 2009



103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's not like the site has a system for bands with the same name. It's all pretty primitive, disorganized and unregulated. I figure the Finnish Unholy is much older and better known so they take priority.

Blindsided
October 27th 2009



1871 Comments


Sort of true but take for example death metal band Death vs. punk band Death which was input in the system to separte reviews and such as Death (Punk). It's not about who is more important or not, it's about the reviews.

noisymugwump
October 27th 2009



103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Since I changed all the info on Unholy I can avoid that confusion, although the band pic got screwed up somehow. Besides, that was likely just a one-time intervention because it's a staff review. I don't think staff reviewers ever even encountered that problem before.

Blindsided
October 27th 2009



1871 Comments


Well the review for the currently active Unholy is still under there so now you have 2 reviews from 2 different bands on that page. Good thinking genius.

Mordecai.
October 27th 2009



8270 Comments


haha

rasputin
October 27th 2009



14517 Comments


This band is great; I've listened to this a few times, not enough for a rating though. Awesome review.

noisymugwump
October 28th 2009



103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As if that's gonna cause some unprecedented confusion. Come on...

Blindsided
October 28th 2009



1871 Comments


Since the doom Unholy has been disbanded for quite a few years then yes it most likely will.

noisymugwump
October 28th 2009



103 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They reformed in 2009 chowderhead.

illmitch
October 28th 2009



5429 Comments


any band noisymugwump reviews is almost definitely going to be better than another band of the same name

come on

rasputin
October 28th 2009



14517 Comments


123

SIL0KKI
July 7th 2010



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

http://unholy.fi/
doom-unholy is alive and kicking

Homeslice
March 26th 2011



177 Comments


Hmm I like Esoteric and Skepticism and dISEMBOWELMENT. I guess this is a no brainer for a listen. I'll have to give it several listens for a rating

CaptainDooRight
October 24th 2012



28355 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

legiz

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

DarthMann
October 24th 2012



13476 Comments


haha i guess you got blindsided



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