I was surprised to learn that Unmensch hadn’t been snapped up as a name. It’s as it sounds. This is a cold and misanthropic black metal band from Belgium, with whom, we’re told, comparisons can be made with the likes of Marduk, Naglfar, Setherial, Lord Belial and Blodsrit.
“Let the World Drown” starts off slow and mean. Before long the ante is upped and we’re surrounded in ringing hatred and venom. This is very Dark Funeral, I’d say. Here are all the classic ingredients of black metal – lingering and withering / contemptuous instrumentals, urgent drumming and fire-soaked vocals and roars. And so it goes on – fire and intensity reign. The movements are all familiar, however, as it’s like a compendium of black metal, whether it’s the all-out assault, tempo changes, breaks or whatever. Ominous interludes, such as appear on “Storm Breaks Loose”, are too short and accordingly lack impact. The track ends with the sounds of battle. I guess the melancholic and ominous start of “The Path”, which follows, is the aftermath of the battle. The funereal tone hangs on like a rancid smell. The vocalist rasps on and it goes on for 9 minutes, which just seemed too long. The band evidently thought this too, as midway through it steps up into darker territory. But it’s not very exciting, and as we swing back into funeral mode, it occurred to me that if I want to be infiltrated by this, I’d turn to Mayhem not Unmensch. The symphonic end has a little bit of drama, but this does not roll over into “Wolf”, which returns us to the template contempt, which we first heard on “Let The World Drown”. See above. I can in fairness see that “Wolf” has been carefully split up into distinct passages, and appreciated the spooky and again symphonic end, but this wasn’t frightening me to death. In fact it left me a little cold in the wrong sense. So too did “The Abyss”, which provides another 6 minutes of intensity and again has a predictable pattern. Like “The Path”, the final track “11:00” seems to represent the end of the war and death. The bells chime and it’s atmospheric enough but for me the assault before it didn’t lead to this solemnity.
If I’d heard this album around the turn of the millennium, I might have got excited about it. Don’t get me wrong. “Scorn” lives up to its title and has all the venom and intensity you could want. I just felt that it was a patchwork of everything I’d heard before of an extreme black metal orientation without adding anything new in the imagination department.
(6/10 Andrew Doherty)