• Jeremy Ledford
  • Unsacred

Yesterday Unsacred dropped their first full-length, False Light, after three more or less invisible EPs. With it this black-metal trio from Richmond, Virginia, joined the roster of Forcefield Records, which has also released music from the likes of Yautja, Windhand, Inter Arma, and Bastard Sapling.

If like me you listen to an immoderate amount of black metal, you’ve probably noticed that bands on the “punk” end of the genre (as opposed to the “atmospheric” sound exemplified by the hippies in Agalloch) tend to sound thin and scritchy, like a gerbil trying to get into a can of soup. Part of this has to do with cheap-shit recording techniques, which are admittedly pretty punk, but part of it has to do with an apparent aversion to the bass, which is not.

“Plague,” the lead single from False Light (and today’s 12 O’Clock Track), definitely borrows from crust punk and D-beat for its blunt aggression and almost comically filthy guitar tone, but that’s not why I’m recommending it. It’s got some great low end, and better yet, it understands how to throw around its center of mass and get some fucking traction.

Listen to the riff downshift and dig in at 1:04. That’s what I’m talking about. Lots of black metal is basically music for depressives holed up in imaginary caves, but this is the sound of an angry, outgoing breed of misanthropy. The song is up to its door handles in mud, and it’s still barreling right at you.

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.