While comparing black metal to Dungeons and Dragons seems like an easy thing to do, there are times when I find it most fitting. In the early days of published adventures, things like The Tomb of Horrors and Temple of Elemental Evil were less about dynamic roleplay and more grinding dungeon crawls. This is what I feel like when listening to Ungedul, the second record from German outfit Arath — a merciless crawl across hewn stone floors with little chance of success or survival.
If it was not apparent by now but Arath plays a blistering style of second wave black metal which is most likely rooted in darkness and the occult if the song titles were not in their native tongue. Though most of the songs hover around the 5 minute mark, Arath’s music fills those five minutes in with music which feels like eternity tucked away from the sun. Thought the group’s music is hinged on repetitive droning, things like the break in “Floss att Dakhternath,” the organ closer “Glarkommer” and the twinkling crescendo of “Dan svartt Porthen” gives the record the right amount of time to breathe before holding its breathe for the next few hours.
While I could sit here and make endless jokes about dungeons, it is important to note for all the grind and grit this record possesses, it is nothing but fun to experience. This fun of course comes a varied experience with black metal and a desire to hear the style of Burzum, Satyricon, and Darkthrone through a slightly clearer filter. Arath does a tremendous job of paying reverence to their second wave masters but also making a record which can be cold and grisly even in 2014.