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Album Review: Unbounded Terror – Faith in Chaos

Sometime in the fall of last year, I got a promo sent to me for the Spanish gothic/doom-death band, Golgotha.  The short version is that I kind of hated it.  It went nowhere, just plodded along with no good atmosphere or melody to speak of, it wasn’t my cuppa, and there was very little I liked about it.  So I was understandably a bit cagey when approaching Unbounded Terror since both bands share Vicente Paya, who also seems to be the main songwriter in both bands.  Not only is this one of my pet peeve releases (old forgotten band reforming after thirty or more years because nostalgia allows a lot of crazy things to happen), but it’s also fronted and written by a guy who wrote an album just a few months ago that I didn’t like either!  Yikes!

Well, it turns out Vicente is a hell of a lot better at writing death metal than he is the gloomy doom stuff because Faith in Chaos is actually really damn enjoyable.  I’m hesitant to call out influences here simply because the band’s original incarnation dates back quite a ways and seems to be one of the first to do what they did in their national scene, so they probably take inspiration from a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of. But, there are some similarities I can definitely draw parallels to.  Musically, this is death metal that carries the torch of Vader and Vomitory.  There are loads of vaguely thrashy riffs interspersed with tremolos so hot that they make your eardrums blister, and they’re not afraid of slowing down to deliver an absolutely devastating groove.  There’s a deceptive amount of melody as well because this is destructive and brutal but carries a lot of larger-than-life leads and melodic hooks.  The big difference is just that the drumming isn’t as violently blast-heavy as the two legendary V-bands.

The other major sonic similarity I can find is in Vicente’s vocals.  He croaks up to a raspy mid-range every once in a while, but deep, throaty growls supplement the lion’s share of the music on Faith in Chaos, and they are a dead ringer for Effigy/Breeding-era Frank Mullen.  I’m still fairly new here at IMV, so let me make something very clear for you all: Suffocation is in serious danger of being my favorite death metal band of all time.  They were easily the most dominant in the genre in the 90s, and they’ve dipped below “enjoyable” only once (on Blood Oath, which was just boring) since their reformation.  Suffocation may have inspired a lot of terrible bands over the years, but something like Unbounded Terror is going to get high marks for me just on principle for managing to recreate so faithfully something from their classic era.  The riffs themselves here aren’t nearly as twisted and mangled as Suffocation at their peak, but Paya’s Mullen-esque roar pairs extremely well with the more straightforward death metal on display.  It ups the brutality by a magnitude of at least four.

If there’s any real flaw here, it’s simply that the album is kind of one-note.  It shifts tempo a lot and has some monstrous grooves to break up the fast parts, and even the fast parts aren’t overly blasty (which wouldn’t be a bad thing anyway, but it shows they’re dedicated to delivering a varied experience). But even then, you get the gist of the album after the first track.  There aren’t any real surprises here, but everything that’s here is quite well done.  The highlight is the closer, “Through the Flesh We Will Reach Hell.”  It’s the same idea and execution as the rest of the album, but it has the most hummable riffs by a pretty wide margin.  If you don’t demand obvious highlights and dig any of the classic bands I namedropped, you’ll find plenty to like here.

Faith in Chaos was released on January 2nd, 2020, via Xtreem Music, and can be purchased in all the usual formats from the label’s Bandcamp.

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