Does it seem like the cultural and political divide that’s wrecked this country is terminally diseased? There doesn’t seem to be a potential watershed event out there that can bring some connectivity, and if a global disease can’t cure it, the close of the next election cycle doesn’t have a prayer. But that’s what you get when fascism becomes a cancerous fad, and meaningful healing is way on the backburner.
“Ascension,” the third full-length from Pittsburgh’s Unfurl, puts focus on the deterioration of our society, namely the stripping away of rights from marginalized people, inequality, and mental health struggles, topics that have only gotten more aggravated the last few years. These volcanic eight songs wreak havoc and recreate the societal tear in which we’re trapped, pounding away mentally and physically. The band—vocalist Nicholas Nemetz, guitarist/vocalist/keyboard player/Didgeridoo master, bassist Ricky Petticord, drummer/vocalist Josh Thieler (also of Úzkost)—employs fiery metallic hardcore, noise, and doom to hammer away and churn flesh, firing back at the forces of injustice.
“Coiled Serpent” begins with noises swirling and then the dagger is jammed into the ribs, shrieks raining down as the chaos builds. Guitars smear as the playing pounds away with force, smashing and disorienting, piledriving and engorging before disappearing into madness. “Gossamer Ladder” brings melting fury as the shrieks deface, the guitars trampling as the heat intensifies. The drums massacre as vicious howls blister, and the relentless terror bows to a synth haze. “Trembling in the Threshold” unearths deep, lurching growls and a drilling pace, tearing into your brain. Total obliteration strikes as your senses melt, and the path of destruction is agitated and left to consume everything in its path. “Burning Question” enters in numbing combustion, stabbing with emotion, leading into muddy clubbing. The playing is blinding and disorienting, smashing with an unforgiving violence that only has intertest in complete obliteration.
“This Empty Planet” is bled into as corrosive hell slowly is unleashed, the shrieks mangling your veins. Things gets more calculated but remain dangerously heavy, the heat begins to rise and encircle, and feedback storms and heads into “Hyperviolet Estuary” that responds with razor-sharp riffs. Clean calls slip behind the pummeling shrieks, and then guitars sprawl, leading to a more progressive tone. Growls are encased in filth as inventive and staggering battering leaves anyone with a nervous system reeling. “Entity Reunion in the Sky” is the longest track, running 8:37 and instantly running headlong into jarring growls and a suddenly increasing blanket of smoke. Vile shrieks meet with thick growls as some calm adds a cooler breeze, but it’s only leading you back into the furnace, snarling and slipping into jagged terrain. Speedy riffs splatter, and playing trucks viciously, and then we’re into closer “Longitudes & Leylines” that eases its way in. It’s not long until the band is crushing skulls, allowing hazier playing to cause confusion, sounds increasing the disorientation, screams stripping flesh from bone. The molten flow continues as the singing melts, sounds combust, and the torment fades into oblivion.
Unfurl are stitching together mental journeys we’ve all taken as we’ve watched our world get battered, our society on the verge of being hijacked by forces who mean us harm. “Ascension” certainly helps the listener get into that mind frame, and the playing and utter intensity pays off the anger, disillusionment, and frustration so many of us have felt fighting these battles. Unfurl isn’t giving in, and this music is testament to the fire in their bellies, and they will have no hesitation taking to the streets.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/VNFVRL/
To buy the album, go here: https://vnfvrl.bandcamp.com/album/ascension