When the Finnish death/doom metal quartet Unholy (est. 1990) originally released 1993’s ‘From The Shadows’ on Austria’s Lethal Records, it was either their first or second album, depending on whether you consider the previous year’s ‘Trip to Depressive Autumn’ a demo. Peaceville’s great-sounding 2017 reissue on double 12″ was the first vinyl pressing of this trendsetting record.
Unholy must have been easy to lump in as part of the the funeral doom movement emerging from their fatherland in the early 90s, but really they were always doing their own fucked-up thing. The vibe is kind of stoner on this record, with lots of slow, sludgy, atonal riffs. Psychedelic keyboard work on some tracks takes the concept of organ doom in a far more psychotic direction than other Finn-doomers like Skepticism. Passionate and disgusting death grunts are dominant but there are some moments of surprising variation in the singing, including 1980s-style belting on a few tracks (e.g. A2). Occasionally the sombre doom tempo explodes into amazing death metal parts. A love of traditional metal harmonics is also in evidence, making the death and doom flavours equally strong. Autopsy, Goatlord, early Cathedral, and Candlemass all seem equally important as influences. The somewhat disparate components of Unholy’s sound balance into a pretty perfect whole, one in which any doom metal afficionado will be happily buried.
Over a decade later, another influential Finnish doom project paid tribute to Unholy’s impact when Reverend Bizarre, in the lyrics to their cult classic track ‘Goddess of Doom,’ included this band among a famous lyrical catalog of their influences— definitely check out every band mentioned in that song btw, it offers a great index of other groups to explore if this record appeals to you…
…But enough talk; time to pay your tithe to the Suomi metal godz!