Label: UKEM Records
I’ve been in a bit of a rut this week, when it comes to getting anything written. Work has been draining, there’s always jobs that need doing at home, and sometimes I just want to listen to my old (or new) favourites rather than continue the never-ending journey of discovery that is underground metal. At times like this, you need something to come along and shake you, to give you that kick in the teeth and remind you why you do what you do. Unholy Sedition by UK black metal trio Burial (not to be confused with the other Burial from the UK) has done just that to me. It makes no attempt to reinvent the genre, reveling in blasphemy and trve filth, but it does so with such conviction and ruthless bloody-mindedness that it’s hard not to be impressed.
A quick look at the song titles will give an indication of what to expect, and they’re entirely accurate. “Malevolent Possession”; “Satanic Immolation”; “Nothing Awaits” – the second-wave inspired blasphemies these titles promise are fully delivered, with large parts of Unholy Sedition coming across as if it has no influences from after 1996 (save those who are themselves keeping the flame of mid-90s Scandinavian black metal alive), and is all the better for it. There’s a few hints of death metal here and there, where Burial’s death metal past comes through – chiefly in the vocals, which are often deeper and more guttural than typical for black metal – but even so, there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a furious example of old-school black metal.
Whilst large parts of the album recall to the “no fun, no core, no mosh, no trends” tone of times gone by, presenting its Satanism with a straight face, there’s moments when it can almost be described as enjoyable. The most obvious example is closing track “Nun Fucking Black Metal”, which brings to mind Marduk’s “Christaping Black Metal” in attitude if not entirely in sound – Burial don’t unleash the same kind of blitzkrieg as Marduk did, being more mid-paced (and far less one-dimensional than Panzer Division Marduk). There’s also a devilish metalpunk attitude revealed in some of the riffs and the designed-for-live rush of the closing track.
In an amusing way, Unholy Sedition almost feels like a “fuck you!” response to many of the trends in underground black metal of recent times, where the moves have been towards esoteric, artistic, or raw-as-fuck obscurity (just consider how many bands are worshiping at the altar of the likes of Deathspell Omega, Weakling, or Les Legions Noires – some great records are being made, but there’s only so many nine minute full-immersion tracks or ninety second blasts of rawness one can listen to without becoming numb to their charms). It is a 30 minute reminder of the charms of back-to-basics black metal, eschewing atonality and discord in favor of simply writing good fucking songs, fired by Satan and an appreciation and understand of what makes black metal so good. For anyone even remotely familiar with black metal, it’s unlikely to change your world – but it will give you a kick in the arse, and god-damn do we all ever need that sometimes.