There’s something rotten in the state of doom. In a scene mired with copycat bands, it now takes some serious raw talent to stand out. Thankfully, Seattle’s Un – featuring the bassist of world-beaters Samothrace – set about doing just that on their debut LP, The Tomb Of All Things.
The listener is greeted by haunting, resonant chords, like sirens beckoning from their fog shroud. The uneasy balance of light and dark is a trick which Un rely heavily upon, and it’s the perfect aural accompaniment to the otherworldly scene depicted in the (frankly gorgeous) cover art. So serene is this opening track that I have it set as my alarm tone – a painless solution for easing into these bleak winter mornings. Fancy intro aside, the four remaining tracks offer up an impressive, no-nonsense trawl through the briny abyss of magisterial doom.
There’s more than enough substance here to warrant repeat listens. Effectively, Un’s sound represents the successful marriage of the 90s funeral doom template, with the sort of cultured tonal palette more typically associated with seasoned ambient or post-rock bands. Remorseless, plodding grooves give way to delicately constructed passages of otherworldly calm. Some of the more technical sections positively shunt along with prog-doom grandeur, picking up where Pallbearer left off on their track Foreigner Path (albeit in a much darker vein). Often the guitars simply chime with crystal-clear reverb, at others they roar with vociferous overdrive. Vocals predominantly take the form of guttural death metal growls (along with the odd Conan-esque wail, which is fun).
High praise indeed, however at times Un’s sound can end up sounding like a bit of a mish-mash. For example (and I promise I’m not trying to put anyone off here), there’s a distinctly deathcore-esque breakdown section in Forgotten Path, while Through The Luminous Duskboasts the sort of metallic, shredding solo which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Metal Hammer cover CD from the mid-2000s. Personally I like to view these as little sonic trinkets waiting to be stumbled upon, rather than defining the release as a whole.
The most striking thing about this record – and where it really succeeds – is in the tension and sense of mystery generated by its pacing. The whole thing lurches along in a manner which may remind listeners of Warning’s Watching From A Distance album. It will also please many that Un deploy those same sort of drawn-out, highly evocative guitar leads at numerous points on the album. While Un may – sadly – fall short of achieving Warning’s level of cult status, The Tomb Of All Things is still a highly recommended listen for anyone with an appreciation for the most heartfelt corners of doom.
Scribed by: Jon Weatherill