There are times when my naivety to a band is my undoing. This has happened several times, including with the likes of Mono, The Ocean, and Katatonia. All these bands, I knew the names of, but didn’t look into fully, having heard one track, and putting them down as not my thing. Thankfully I righted those wrongs, and these days I try to make a more concerted effort before having any sort of opinion.
Knowing the name Unverkalt, but without a ton of knowledge of the band themselves, when the option to cover their new album came up, I took it on without hesitation.
A Lump Of Death: A Chaos Of Dead Lovers is a seven-track opus and is refreshing in its uniqueness. Beyond being able to point roughly towards a couple of different genres, it is utterly impossible to compare them to any other artist out there making music in the same vein.
Mixing elements of post-rock, alternative and doom, I saw online somewhere the term ‘post-doom’, and I honestly think this hits the nail squarely on the head.
There are a ton of post-rock sensibilities in the mix but isn’t overly definitive of that moniker. Its dark, in a doomy way too, but isn’t necessarily doom by any means. It’s too heavy at times to sit snuggly in alternative, but I do feel that this needs to be thrown into the mix. Maybe it’s the vocal performance which steers it away from straight post-rock, or even post-metal, but either way, it’s that uniqueness which overlays the soundtrack, and really strikes a chord with me.
After the debut album L’origine du Monde became available in 2020, Unverkalt have been busy fine tuning their sound, and more recently, have been recording their follow up, A Lump of Death: A Chaos of Dead Lovers, which saw its release on 20th of October 2023, via Argonauta Records.
The label themselves have a very eclectic roster, which also includes my very close friends Drive by Wire, and so knowing how diverse they are, it isn’t a surprise that Unverkalt are a little beyond your average heavy band fodder. Having both reviewed, and listened to quite a lot of Greek bands, there is a definite vibe to their sound and ideas and there is a unity which is apparent in the music and its structure.
If dark ambience, doomy post-rock with an alternative feel ticks any of your boxes, then ‘A Lump Of Death: A Chaos Of Dead Lovers is an album you need to connect with…
With Unverkalt the same cannot be said at all, and that’s the thing which also works in the bands favour, as they have a sound which is more Scandinavian in its structure. I imagine this is why they are sometimes labelled as post-rock, as the Scandinavian bands seem to excel at that sound generally. The thing here is that they make me sway towards the likes of PG:Lost and The Ocean, more than they do a lot of the Greek bands.
Right across the album, this feeling is felt, and with the exception of track one, Terrible Secrets which is an opening to the album with its mix of monologued elements, guitar and electronic ambient noise, each track following it is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. There are deep dark moments interlaced with soaring highs, pained guitars, and a vocal which is absolutely wonderous.
Dimitra Kalavrezou is nothing short of intoxicating in her uniqueness and delivery, and sways between gentler harmonising, and emotionally charged outbursts, like the flicking of a switch. Its truly a thing of beauty to witness. As for the rest of the band, the ability to lay down these sonic soundscapes, which conveys feelings of both pain and solitude in equal measure, while remaining grounded in the foundations is a marvel.
Tracks such as Mr. Monster and Heart Of Darkness show just how incredible this band truly are. They pull you in, embrace you within their wings, and transport you on a journey unlike anywhere you’ve been before. Intense and emotional, these tracks really are a snapshot of this band’s beauty. Theres an air of The Birthday Massacre in there too I guess, but it’s so far beyond anything you think you know about female led bands.
Other tracks, such as Mass Hysteria and A Greater Evil contrast the vibe, with somewhat melancholic darkness, which are intended to give a sense of unease. Both showcase their versatility as throughout each piece, the dynamic of restraint verses passion in the performance is evident. Slower moments, with cross sections of angst fuelled power, exacerbate the feeling of unease, and drive anxiety to new levels of extreme.
Over the course of the forty-seven minutes, one thing is evident, and it’s that this band are following their own rule book. If dark ambience, doomy post-rock with an alternative feel ticks any of your boxes, then ‘A Lump Of Death: A Chaos Of Dead Lovers is an album you need to connect with. One of my favourite finds of 2023, Unverkalt may well be one of my highlights of the year.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish