Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
The problem with so much so-called extreme music today is that it doesn’t feel extreme anymore. Maybe more bands are playing it (comparatively) safe; maybe I’m just a desensitized, cynical bastard. Whatever the reason, it’s rare these days for bands to give me that same rush of excitement and sheer sense of maniacal joy at the absurd intensity of what they’re doing as I used to get during my youth. So, when I say that The Sweat Of Augury gave me that feeling, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. What Unyielding Love have unleashed here is twenty minutes of blackened powerviolence that is right at the apex of the style, threatening to tip over in to utter chaos more often than not and sounding all the better for it.
A few comparisons immediately come to mind: chiefly, Full Of Hell and The Endless Blockade. As that might imply, there’s plenty of harsh noise in Unyielding Love’s sound, and even when there aren’t more overtly electronic sections, the music still often has a harsh noise air about it. The songs don’t so much move as they charge through, almost always at maximum speed, full of imminent violence and destruction, and it often sounds as if they’re held together by only the loosest of threads. It’s hard to get over just how wonderfully intense The Sweat Of Augury is; if you need something to kick-start your day, or to act as a musical boot to the head, this more than fits the bill. Wedded to a black metal aura of wrongness and nihilism, it makes the record an undeniable force, trampling all under foot.
But, as with all the best powerviolence, there’s more than just speed (or lack of – the requisite slow bits are here, too) and aggression at play, even if it’s not always apparent. Tracks such are “Fleeting Joy” and “Cruor Whelm” feature hugely catchy riffs, and the closing moments of “Of Human Grease And Ash” are practically sedate as they flow in to penultimate track “The Pregnant Hurt”. At five minutes long, it’s practically an epic, and spends its opening minutes building tension and atmosphere in an almost post-metal manner, each element gradually becoming more intense until the tension is unbearable. Catharsis comes about as a wall of feedback gives way to furious black metal-esque riffing and drumming, with shrieked vocals lost somewhere in the background. It’s a hugely effective movement, and shows that Unyielding Love are just as intelligent with their songwriting as they are aggressive, as does closer “Sweated Augury”. Another behemoth of a track at five and a half minutes in length, it begins in slow, yet remorselessly punishing fashion, with a drum pattern providing an anchor to hold on to in a sea of dizzying guitars and harsh noise. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, and when it gives way to a mammoth, crushing doom-esque riff that is backed up by some deft, deceptively technical drumming, it’s a welcome relief. It’s a very malicious track, unsettling in all the best ways, and as it descends in to a pit of harsh noise, damaged guitars, and desperate vocals, it should be clear that Unyielding Love are one of the best powerviolence bands to emerge in some time.
As intense as it is, The Sweat Of Augury is an undeniably punishing, almost exhausting listen, but despite that there is something very addictive about it. I tend to listen to powerviolence records in short bursts, but with this, I find myself listening to it multiple times on repeat. Even when I’m convinced I can’t take any more, and I need to listen to something a bit kinder on my ears and soul, something in The Sweat Of Augury grabs hold and won’t let me go just yet. Strap yourself in, and don’t expect to break free any time soon.