I’ve always looked upon the Black Metal genre with a very mixed mindset. On the one hand, I absolutely adore the old school bands such as Emperor, Dark Funeral and Marduk with the creativity they bring to the table, keeping the genre intact with a little twist of incredible musicianship. On the other however, many bands these days don’t seem to try to step out of their closed circle and try something new that would make them stand out from the swarms of local Black Metal bands that are hitting our ears today.

When I first listened to the opening track of Unholy Baptism’s upcoming release, Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude, I was a little bit unimpressed because I thought they were just leading on to become one of those washed up Black Metal bands I dread listening to; in my defence, I had given it 30 seconds on my first try. Thankfully, I pushed myself to sit through those first 30 seconds and see if they had any interesting factors that would potentially give them the upper hand, and I. Was. Astonished.

Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude is one of the most relentless, explosive and depressive albums I have ever heard. It’s rare for me to find a Black Metal band that I can genuinely enjoy, much less experience an array of emotions that will leave me thinking about all my past grievances, but Unholy Baptism really blew my expectations out of the water.

While the lyrics pertain to the darkness of the human condition, as well as exploring unknown power of gods, Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude truly opened my mind and made me feel incredible emotions throughout; It tapped into my past depression, the hardships I’ve gone through, and overall sadness.

Vocalist Mantus incorporates the classical Black Metal sound, while at the same time, projecting his vocals into a gallery of misery, gloom and melancholy, really tapping into his emotional side. Through tracks such as “Whispers of Power Eternal” and “Peering into the Flames of Enlightenment”, his vocal performance stands out as a painful and depressive wave that truly moves the listener in unique and somewhat inspiring ways.

What’s easily the most impressive track on the album is the closing track, “Baptized in the Majesty of Satan”. Guitar work by both Mantus and Moloch incorporate incredible layers of emotion-filled riffing that’s almost unheard of in Black Metal, and mixed together with the slow paced, yet explosive drumming, programmed orchestrals and the bass work by Mantus, it creates a unique atmosphere that truly inflicts a sense of sorrow and woe. Finishing the track on an orchestral section, which although it does sound very MIDI based, does in fact piece together an incredible ending that will leave you wanting so, so much more.

I was also very delighted (to say the least) to be able to hear and feel the presence of the bass, performed by Mantus, which was uniquely played and didn’t just follow the root notes of what the guitarists were playing, adding a relentless layer to the already greatly complex musicianship demonstrated by the duo. In a world where following the root note is almost a prerequisite when it comes to bass playing, it’s incredibly difficult to be able to find a band of Unholy Baptism’s local sized calibre to bring forth an extra layer and truly focusing on the writing and performance of all instruments, rather than just putting all their efforts into the guitar and drum songwriting.

The sophomore release, Volume I: The Bonds of Servitude by Depressive Black Metal band Unholy Baptism is a surprisingly refreshing take on the genre, stepping into new territory that will undeniably leave listeners exposed to a flurry of emotions. Thankfully, this was only Volume I, and I can’t be more excited for Volume II and Volume III.