Formed in 1989, UNLORD are widely considered among the Netherlands’ very first black metal bands, if not THE first. Although they never publicly released any demos, their three albums for the sorely missed Displeased Records – 1997’s Schwarzwald, 2000’s Gladiator, and 2002’s Lord of Beneath – stand as a nigh-untouchable trio of freezing-fire black metal incarnate. UNLORD’s proud ‘n’ pure synthesis of bazooka-blown speed and violently melodic riffing reeks of late ‘90s nostalgia but also sounds remarkably fresh today, nearly 20 years after their untimely breakup.
At the dawn of the new millennium did UNLORD unleash their second album, Gladiator. Aptly titled and again adorned with appropriately fiery cover art, Gladiator was a consolidation of all-too-considerable strengths. The blitzkrieg speed of the preceding Schwarzwald is amazingly taken up a notch here, and the riffing clangs & churns with even more authority; if anything,Gladiator is the sound of UNLORD at their most berserk. And yet, the icy melodicism remains, and the production is powerfully clear and crisp.
Back in print on special digipak CD and, for the first time ever, regular vinyl (a limited picture disc was released back in the day), the past is alive with UNLORD’s Gladiator!
Hells Headbangers Records (USA), 2021.