UNFYROS: Alpha Hunt
Release year: 2022
Label: Aural Hypnox Empyrean Editions
Having found your way to this site, chances are the name Aural Hypnox will ring a bell. It is, after all, a label responsible for many a latter-day classic within the realm of dark ambience and ritualistic post-industrial. Halo Manash, I.corax, Aeoga… acts more than likely familiar to aficionados of obscure, esoteric and weird music.
Empyrean Editions is the latest out-branching of the Finnish label. As expressed in the promo sheet, through it will be released material in line with the thematic concepts of the parent label, but sonically completely different. Case in point: Unfyros’ debut album Alpha Hunt, a black metal album.
Unfyros is a duo consisting of Nox Vector on drums and Antti Ittna H. on everything else. There are more than just thematic ties to Aural Hypnox – the latter member being the founder of the label. So it comes as no surprise that there is a thematic overlap.
And, indeed, Alpha Hunt is deeply mystical, evocative and esoteric black metal of worlds behind worlds, spiralling tunnels beyond the edge of reality; of a slithering darkness that devours everything. It is ritualistic music in a deep, genuine sense of the word; not the cheap surface gloss of faux ritual chanting or incantations stolen from whatever source, or the contextless employment of well-known symbols. Alpha Hunt is void of all these things. No, it comes from somewhere deeper.
Partly it comes from the music itself. Alpha Hunt is slow, even torturously slow, using skillfully hypnotic repetition. The tracks are less a collection of riffs and sections than an evolving and amorphous darkness; serpents that slowly uncoil and reveal their full glory as each track progresses. Unfyros are at the same time traditional and modern: the dissonance of the riffs and prominence of bass shows a connection to more modern black metal, whilst at other times the tremolo picking guitarwork bows deep to the pioneers of the genre.
Partly the ritualistic element is in the lyrics, of course. I won’t go into any in-depth analysis (I’d only make a fool of myself if I attempted), but they are full of dark, sinister imagery of buried mysteries, concealed depths and echoes from subterranean caverns of nether-realms. Delivered with a venomous, hoarse and raspy shrieks and screams, they are lent a characteristic of otherworldliness – as should be in black metal.
And to a major extent it is the atmopshere created by music, lyrics, arrangements and imagery. Alpha Hunt is not a cheap stage-up of a ritual, but holds within its serpentine depths the innermost essence of a ritual; the invocation and depiction of esoteric, occult concepts and powers.
The promo sheet describes Unfyros as black heavy metal. Insofar this rings true, that Alpha Hunt is a thoroughly lurching, slow-paced affair where a relaxed mid-tempo is as fast as things get. However, I can’t be the only one to whom “black heavy metal” evokes images of leather, spikes, beer-guzzling and machismo. Which is sort of the polar opposite to the inwards turned ruminations of Alpha Hunt.
Alpha Hunt is a bit of a tricky album to get into at first. It’s slow-paced songs offer little in terms of instantly accessible, catchy melodies or choruses, “hit songs” or such. Instead, it is an introverted album, which requires time and even a bit of effort to get into. Eventually, though, the work will pay off, and what at first might have seemed even a bit flat (or, dare I say it: dull) turns out to be a mesmerizing piece of genuinely occult black metal.
At the end of the day, Alpha Hunt is a challenge, but also rich in its rewards. Probably this is one of those albums where the platitude of “not for everybody” is apt, but if seriously esoteric, slow-paced, hypnotic and understatedly melodic black metal is your thing, then make sure to check this out.
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