To say that Unholy is long-awaited might be the biggest understatement in all of 2016. Since Immoralist’s groundbreaking debut EP, the heavy music community has been anxiously awaiting a follow-up record from the group—and while the singles “Rotten Teeth” and “Nails” were excellent in their own right, they did little to quench the collective thirst of those who adore all things heavy—and Immoralist have been silent about it until recently. Unholy is a diverse and devastating record, showcasing Immoralist drawing from a sprawling array of influences and styles to create a record that is comprehensively crushing. Using beatdown hardcore, black metal, doom metal and of course, deathcore, as ingredients to Unholy, Immoralist have crafted a chart-topping, album-of-the-year contender that is easily worth the lofty three-year wait.
Unholy is a collective instrumental effort by Immoralist’s three members—guitarist and songwriter Cameron Marygold, songwriter and vocalist Davis Rider and guitarist Kody Davis. Together, this trio forged a cast-iron, crushing display of hard-hitting instrumental intensity. Marygold and Davis—Marygold especially—fill just about every track with a sprawling variety of punishing percussion and scathing fretwork. From the ten-ton introduction “Hell on Earth,” through the blackened display of furious fretwork in “Upon His Horns” (courtesy of Lorna Shore’s Adam DeMicco) to the beatdown-infused “Fuck It Up” and all the way through the haunting conclusion “Anthology,” Marygold and Davis absolutely dominate the listener’s ears, letting nothing else but devastating aggression inside. Where Unholy is undoubtedly heavy, what is truly incredible about the album is the diverse array of deathcore and metallic stylings prevalent throughout the release. “Nails [III]” and “Upon His Horns” see Immoralist doing much more than just chug and groove—as both tracks feature dynamic riffs, eerie leads and spacious atmosphere for the listener to get lost in, with the latter of the two especially pulling stunts from blackened death metal’s playbook. Meanwhile, Marygold and Davis let their more hardcore-friendly sides shine through on “Fuck It Up” (a short-but-scathing display of bitterness) and “Rotten Teeth,” using simpler drum patterns and relatively straightforward fretwork to obliterate the listener. Finally, songs like “World Cleaver,” “Severed Tongues,” “Marked Ones” and “Zero Absolution” showcase the band’s raw, unfiltered deathcore stylings—with “Marked Ones” making beautiful use of Alex Terrible’s guest appearance to provide a skin-peeling, organic and traditional deathcore sound.