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Death Metal With “A Reason to Live”: Unburnt Knows How to Burn

unburnt

Death metal harbors many hidden curiosities within its labyrinthine corridors, and some of these surprises have begun to emerge during the genre’s latest mass proliferation. After gestating in dismal caverns for many moons, countless new supergroups and high-profile collaborations have now resulted in strong contenders for favorite death metal releases of the modern era.

Unburnt is a contender here, comprised of four veterans from across the lands of Canada now fast approaching the release of their latest work, the Arcane Evolution EP — its four tracks follow the group’s 2016 single “Harnessing Black Flame,” their only other recorded material to date. Conceived by the founding trio of Samskaras and ex-Derelict vocalist Eric Burnet, guitarist Bo Louther, and drummer Joe Mullen of Ontario-based melo-death group Odium, Unburnt has newly expanded into a four-piece outfit with the addition of bassist John-Ryan Godfrey of We Are Human. Despite the more prolific nature of its members’ constituent projects, though, Unburnt’s material retains novelty, though prior influences do shine through in subtle moments of familiarity. Check out a stream of the EP’s opening track “A Reason to Live,” a whirlwind of technical proficiency and sinister tonalities that assaults the listener relentlessly across its pithy length.

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“A Reason to Live” illustrates Unburnt’s uncanny textural approach; the razor-edged production of modern melo-death collides with the groovy, mid-paced breakdowns of brutal death metal, all tied together by fleeting moments of blackened ambience. Set alongside the EP’s first released single “Sorrow-Bearing Enemy,” “A Reason to Live” is decidedly indifferent to the blackened elements which emerge elsewhere, eschewing ominously cerebral tones for a more physical, stripped-down approach. The song is a demonically possessed stampede as it transitions around the two-minute mark into a galloping clip undergirded by double-bass and consummated by a cascading solo from the hands of Louther, driving the piece into a frenzy before its rather abrupt final riff.

The brusque, uncomfortably in-your-face mix and production style of the Arcane Evolution EP houses a rather jagged aural dissonance created between the record’s vocals and instrumentals, although this could surely be the band’s intended effect. Nevertheless, Unburnt achieves their brutality while retaining a sense of accessibility across the full spectrum of extreme metal, perhaps not bridging these chasms between subgenres, but instead including some bit of flavor from many contrasting forms.

The Arcane Evolution EP releases August 16th. Follow the band on Bandcamp.

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