Never make plans. I’ve said that over and over in my life, and for some stupid reason, I keep doing the exact opposite of that, and it always comes back to bite me. Middle of last week, I finally finished my top 40 for the year, which was the most difficult list I’ve done in the history of this site. I was finally feeling good, and then Adam Bartlett of Gilead Media destroyed my world, so thanks!
Actually, for real, thanks. Because he announced a final release for his label for the year, that being “Before the Glinting Spells Unvest,” the second effort from Ustalost, which is helmed by Will Skarstad, co-founder of black metal spirits Yellow Eyes. So, yes, we kind of had to rip up the top 40 sort of, but it was my pleasure to do so as this album is just astonishingly great, which is no big surprise. Ustalost’s 2016 debut “A Spoor of Vipers” was our no 6 album of the year, and this one inhabits the same universe with a little more intoxicating smoke and strange visions that have you on the line between euphoria and panic. These six tracks are a mind warp, and while I’ve been 100 percent sober for every listen in the past week (and there have been many), I’m very curious to see where some minor and wholly legal mind-altering substances take me. Fuck, this is good. I know it’s some time off because of the vinyl plant hell that’s going on, but I can’t wait to hear this thing on my turntable.
“Enough Glass Will Cast a Shadow” get things started basking in a synth cloud that feels almost as if it’s emitting the green and blue from the cover before the track tears apart. The shrieks punish as they echo in the atmosphere, the pace charges with a progressive energy, and the riffs cascade, washing you away with them. Fury is unleashed anew as the shrieks pound away, the guitars glisten, and your mind wanders into the unknown. “Stinging Stone” basks in fog as the tempo arrives under cover of night, and the vocals rip hard, joined by an inhuman clean choral section behind, taking you into the stars. The bass slinks and slithers as vicious cries jolt, and a blinding storm arrives that robs you of sight. The synth simmers as the smoke blankets the horizon, ending in sci-fi heat. “White Marble Column Air” drips in with keys and bells chiming, and then the pulsating action is under way, drilling into your mind as vicious howls envelop. It’s a strange aura that lifts into electric atmosphere, joining with panicked shrieks and synth lines swimming in the eeriness, continually blasting until it sinks into soundscape.
The title track gets moving in a hurry as tricky riffs tangle you in laces and then taunt, encircling you with a gust of chaos. Chilling choral sections cause you to shiver as the guitars confound, the bass tramples, and a delirious push ends in soot. “Spider Tongue, Memory Ester” runs eight minutes and boils in its juices, the guitars spiraling and causing the sky to hypnotize. The shrieks tear into the flesh as the bass bends time, the riffs sting, and you notice your extremities are numb. The synth activates and coats your lungs, the bass chugs, and the guitars turn more sinister, positioning its red eyes your way, building pressure, and melting into 9:08-long closer “Bright Window Closing.” That track muscles its way in with strong guitar work and flooding melodies that work alongside the vocals that carve into your skull. A disarming chorus sits behind and haunts while the pace doubles and blisters, folding in on itself. The bass rivets as the calls echo, the playing melts into space, and the final moments are bells chiming until silence devours everything.
This final entry in 2021 is a welcome one that we’d let disrupt our schedule anytime, so we embrace “Before the Glinting Spells Unvest,” an absolute gem of a record. Ustalost, over just two records, have created an atmosphere and universe that do not seem a part of this reality, yet there it is, bleeding into ours, warping our viewpoint. Leave it to Skarstad to wait until the very last minute to release one of the most engaging and powerful black metal albums of the entire year.
For more on the band, go here: https://ustalost.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/