When Autopsy decide to come back in 2009, nobody was really surprised that the core line-up of Chris Reifert, Danny Coralles and Joe Allen were still in touch. After all, they had been playing in Abscess together all this time after Autopsy had broken up in 1995! Similarly, when Unearthly Trance announced its return, there was nothing surprising behind the reformation of the core line-up of Ryan Lipynsky, Jay Newman and Darren Verni. All three musicians were playing in Serpentine Path with Tim Bagshaw (ex. Electric Wizard, ex. Ramesses). Unlike Burn or Resurrection, none of the musicians had quit music to pursue other interest. They were all still very much on the same page and only decided to reactivate their most well known project. A cash grab? Well, if this one (have anyone ever tried to get rich playing sludge?), sign me up for more!
Ryan Lipynsky (also of The Howling Wind), who wrote all the material on the album, pushed aside his Black metal influences to focus on creating a Sludge album devoid of tremolos and blasts. Dream state arsenal could have been featured on the band’s second album, In the red. A much more stripped down affair than their Relapse debut, the Black metal drenched, The trident. It’s no surprise that the band only performed songs from In the red on their European tour last year. This is a come back album. Unearthly Trance is reconquering its throne as the Sludge kings and they have brought all the songs necessary to please their early fans.
The name of Colin Martson (Gorguts, Infidel?/Castro!, Dysrhythmia…) had never been associated to Sludge to the best of my knowledge, but the quality of his work here is tremendous! He embraced each instrument’s identity to make them all shine with a crisp and clear sound. For a Sludge album, Stalking the ghost is uncharacteristically devoid of feedback. The recording is focused on making each songs shine individually rather than in creating a stereo-typically evil atmosphere. Martson and Lypinsky are conscious they have written some fantastic songs and they are giving to each all the intention and the clarity necessary to make each and everyone as memorable as possible. This is not album about riffs and power, it’s a collection of songs where every musicians contributes to create a memorable structure to carry some of the most striking and evocatively hate fueled songs of their career.
Ultimately, as expected as it might have been, Unearthly Trance is surprisingly more than just another comeback. With Stalking the ghost, Ryan Lypinsky and his collaborators have re-established themselves as a fantastic band with one of the most remarkable album of the beginning of the year.