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.
In that black metal-rich year of 1997 did UNLORD unleash their debut album, Schwarzwald. Adorned with appropriately fiery cover art, Schwarzwald very much sounded – and looked – like its era, and was all the better for it. And yet, crucially, UNLORD here offer a variety of songcraft across the 13-track album whilst keeping the focus on cryogenically-cold violence. What’s more, their usage of synths is sparing and tasteful, and on Schwarzwald did they set forth a sterling standard of production: remarkably clear and crisp, but not once sacrificing an iota of power.
Back in print on special digipak CD and, for the first time ever, on vinyl, the past is alive with UNLORD’s Schwarzwald!
Hells Headbangers Records (USA), 2021.