UnearthlyNot many bands can claim to have launched their own official beer. Unearthly from Brazil can do that. The reason is that this band has become legendary in South American metal circles. In existence since 1998, “Flagellum Dei” is their fourth album, supplementing two live albums and an impressive history of playing live at big concerts and with renowned death and black metal bands.

I confess that I wasn’t paying too much attention when I first put this on, and was surprised to hear a distinctly Polish sound blasting through my speakers. This is easily explained by the fact that the album was recorded at the Hertz studio, the origin of works by Behemoth, Vader, Vesania, Decapitated and countless others of an extreme persuasion. It sounds like an impressive link-up. Triggering fire and brimstone contribute to a Behemoth-style assault. There’s a constancy in the sweeping attack. Murderous guitars add venom to “Baptized in Blood”. Each track has a subtle variation. The title track is meatier and a more drawn out piece of death metal. “Black Sun (Part I)” is the embodiment of lingering belligerence. The impressive drum roll signals intent. This is relentless and remorseless, but good as the riffs are, this album can lack excitement.

“Osmotic Haeresis (Part II)” is another hard-hitting statement of bludgeoning warfare. I liked the fact that “My Fault” then slows down and creeps up. The blazoning guitars create a good atmosphere, continued by the marching feel of “Eye for an Eye”. The drums climactically signal impending war and precede an exhilarating passage of power and terror. The drum work on this album is magnificent, taking us forward through this musical barbed wire. Towards the end Unearthly take on another aspect with sound distortions and again impressively pattering drums, which combine on the interlude-like “”Limbus” with an interesting Eastern sound. After a scream, we return to the bloody violence. The vocalist sounds like a harsh warlord on “Insurgency”, accompanied by those pounding drums and the sneering guitar. “Exterminata” follows on from “Limbus”. The calming guitar and rolling drum give the sense that something higher is coming. Instead of resorting to violence, there’s a showmanlike rise in tempo. So the album finishes on a majestic, even melancholic note.

One thing that’s clear about Unearthly is that they have no fear. As the album goes on, they show that they’re versatile and not afraid to try things. I think I’d have been more captivated if the Eastern touches and elements of majesty had been spread more evenly in passages across the blackened death which features in the earlier parts of “Flagellum Dei”. It is still an accomplished and atmospheric album, but for me needed more balance in the mix.

(7 / 10 Andrew Doherty)