Released: 2016, Hells Headbangers Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Unbound indeed. Hot on the heels of their first North American performance, at May’s Maryland Deathfest, long-running Australian black metal horde Denouncement Pyre unleash their third album and look to make an even greater impression on the worldwide underground. It will certainly make you sit up and take notice.
The band's gritty, straight-forward black metal rabble has a dark melodic flair to it that recalls Dissection in their brief prime or Watain. There might not be as much atmosphere – though tracks like “Wounds of Golgotha” or “World Encircler” do offer some dramatic flourishes - but that's hardly a complaint, especially given the crafty, punchy guitar work of frontman D. and M., who, going by their monikers, apparently don't feel the need to complicate things any more than they have to.
Though certainly malevolent, Unbound is remarkably catchy – in large part because of the beefy, surging riffs that just keep coming, especially on the title track and the death march instrumental “Transform the Aether,” punctuated by intermittent tremolos. Denouncement Pyre maximize their impact by smartly keeping their arrangements relatively simple and not going overboard on the overdrive.
There is no shortage of aggression – and “Scars Adorn the Whore in Red” and “Revere the Pyre” do race right along – don't get me wrong, but it's a controlled chaos that ensures there is plenty of bite all the way around. D.'s sinister, low-register snarl also helps in that regard, providing more heft and menace than a typical black metal shriek. The album's thick, resonant production seals the deal.
Denouncement Pyre laid a pretty good foundation for themselves with 2010's World Cremation and 2013's Almighty Arcanum and take a big step forward with Black Sun Unbound. In a perfect world, it will help put them in the same league as fellow Aussie black metallurgists Deströyer 666 or Bestial Warlust, who enjoy an international reputation, especially if the band keep making probing attacks on new territories, like they did at the Deathfest. At the very least, it shows them as a force to be reckoned with.