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Unhallowed – Awaken the Black Flame

unhallowed – awaken the black flame


One should never judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to think of Dissection when a band is named after one of the many classic songs of the band. Even putting this bias aside, the German act Unhallowed certainly found a lot of inspiration in their namesake. And I think the band embraces that, as in for instance ‘We Shall Reap’, which is a nice reference to the reaper on ‘Storm of the Light’s Bane’ to start with, lyrics such as “A Land Forlorn, Where Frozen Winds Blow” are directly taken from Dissection’s track lists. The vocal style is also fairly close to that of Jon Nodveidt, even bearing a similar touch of reverb. Even if they take a lot of inspiration from the Swedes, there’s no denying that a song like ‘Toward the Abyss’ contains strong melodies throughout, nearing a similar chilling atmosphere of their inspiration and even adding a solo towards the end that counts among one of the highlights of the album.

But digging a little bit deeper into the music on the band’s debut album ‘Awaken the Black Flame’, we do find that Unhallowed is not just a Dissection copy. For one, acts like Unanimated and other high-profile members of the 90s wave of Swedish melodic Death/Black Metal made their mark on the sound of Unhallowed. But that fast, melody-driven harmonious Black Metal with clear origins in more Thrashy riffing is not the only thing we can find on this Folter Records released album. In tracks such as the title song we also find a riff structure that very similar to the epic riffs of Immortal in their ‘At the Heart of Winter’ through ‘Sons of Northern Darkness’ period. In addition, some of the base melody progressions in the songs remind me of Keep of Kalessin. Both of them fit well with this typical Swedish sound but at the same time make Unhallowed sound just a little bit different than bands that merely try to copy that brand of melodic Death/Black Metal.

The mark of Dissection on the sound of Unhallowed might be clear, but their infusion of slightly different angles makes it both a feast of recognition as well as a fresh take on a beloved style. No matter how you look at it, ‘Awaken the Black Flame’ is a strong debut of well-crafted and skilfully played Swedish style melodic Death.Black Metal. That a style that has been extensively emulated for decades can still sound fresh is probably the greatest compliment we can give to Unhallowed!


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