For some time now, this CVLT has monitored a black metal presence residing in Bielefeld, Germany, that operates under the name of UNRU. Their maiden utterance earned a spot among our Top 6 Demos of 2013, and we reviewed one of the two stellar split releases that followed here. The band also contributed to our Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing tribute album, so CVLT Nation is honored now to bring you a full stream of Unru’s latest offering, Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts. Rather than mince words, I’d simply like to state that this is one of the most distinctive acts operating in the black metal underground today, and that this unsettling, ferocious record is a big fucking deal for both longtime fans of the band and the uninitiated.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the weirdest, most chaotic black magic shit Unru have conjured to date. It’s also the band’s most extensive recording since their demo (both splits were single tracks, about 10 minutes apiece), and if we’re to refer to Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts as their first full-length, then Unru have already gone through a tremendous amount of sonic development prior to its release. Demo MMXIII showed the band at their most convulsive, a barely-intact blend of ambient noise, black metal, and progressive hardcore, and while the splits with SUN WORSHIP and PARAMNESIA began to move in a more atmospheric, “Cascadian” direction, they showed nothing but progress in terms of songwriting and self-knowledge. Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts beckons back Unru’s initial discordance in a slightly more contained form – rather than total hateful release, this album evokes some powerful rage being barely, just barely contained in a bludgeoning, grotesque mass. As is the band’s trademark, the production is filthy, opaque, tar-like… but under the density lies the same triumphant, uplifting melodies of their later work for those who listen closely enough to seek them out. It’s as if their anger, tension, and seizure has been focused into pure, cold, calculated hate, and the sound of Unru exploring how vitriolic and fucked they can get as a band is an impressive one.
The term “heavy” gets thrown around far too much nowadays, enough that it’s begun to feel like kind of a meaningless cop-out, so I’ll call this record “emotionally trying” instead. It takes energy to really appreciate this, and it takes a lot out of one physically to listen to it. This is not that “get stoned, melt into your couch, and absorb the vibrations” kind of atmospheric black metal we’re all familiar with, this is Revelations-esque, mind-melting, soul-death-acid-trip music. None of this is to say that Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts isn’t a beautiful, enjoyable album, but with the amount of noise elements in Unru’s music it’s clear that they know what they’re doing in terms of harshness, and it’s clear that it’s supposed to hurt a little – as you fight through, you can feel the angst with which this album was made seep into you. Unru hurt a lot, and burn with a discontent that’s vast, bleak, and dismal – or they’re doing a very, very convincing job of faking it.
“Als Tier Ist Der Mensch Nichts” will be released via these labels via Monotonstudio Records (Tape, LP, DE/EU Pre-Order HERE!), Supreme Chaos Records (CD, LP – DE/EU Pre-Order HERE!), and Sentient Ruin (LP – US Pre-Order HERE!) on CD and cassette this Friday, with a vinyl release to follow. Keep up with the details via the band’s Facebook page, and download their past releases on Bandcamp if you haven’t already. They’re free, but donate a few bones if you can spare them.