Review Summary: Through its own crushing weight and eerie tones, Gracfallen proves itself to be among the most powerful and depressing doom metal albums.
Unholy was among the biggest pioneers of the death/doom metal style created in the early 90s, playing in a style akin to the sounds of better known bands such as diSEMBOWELMENT
. Utilising slow pacing and unpredictable song structures, with a solid mix of melody, powerful and some of the most depressing tones possible from the band’s relatively simple guitar/bass/drums/keyboard/vocals setup, the band provided a consistently strong set of albums through the 90s, starting from their best known album, the frenetic From The Shadows
and ultimately concluding with Gracefallen
. While the band’s two albums between these, The Second Ring Of Power
demonstrated a clear move towards a direction ultimately heard in Gracefallen, they lacked the overall focus and polish of the latter, with a style and general mood not quite set in stone and thinner production, though they were good albums in their own right. Conclusively however, Gracefallen is the band’s best album, providing one of the most consistently dark metal albums and with a fair degree of polish.
Potentially the biggest improvement, as indicated previously, is the general quality of the writing; it’s far more confident and much more consistent than Rapture
or even From The Shadows
, with a dark sound maintained all throughout, rather than having the somewhat jittery, inexperienced feel of the latter album (in a way somewhat comparable to Scream Bloody Gore
) and without suffering from lapses of focus often found in the former on the longer tracks like Wunderwerek
. Here, even with rather dramatic shifts in dynamics, a depressing tone is achieved on every song, from the powerful and slow …Of Tragedy
to the volatile Seeker
, navigating through clean passages without losing any of its dark feel. Of course, this can be and is achieved in many different ways, with the aforementioned clean passages, imposing wideness in tracks like Wanderer
, simple but effective keyboard parts, and a use of female vocals throughout, providing an eerie, delicate feel in contrast to the crushing chords of the guitars. The album really clicks into gear when it settles into a dynamic; despite the various styles of track on the album, it manages to perform best when it settles into a slow and even slightly monotonous feel that would greatly hurt the album if it weren’t for it benefiting the overall mood.
Gracefallen is by no means perfect; there are moments that still occasionally feel slightly out of place and some areas where it slightly drags for just too long, while the album’s intimidating length might put people off, but all in all it’s exceptional and a classic of the doom scene, alongside Transcendence Into The Peripheral