Band: Unyielding Love
Release: 'The Sweat of Augury' EP (2016)
Threatening, unruly and haunting are terms often thrown at the feet of extreme noisemakers - and this persistent usage sometimes leaves such descriptors jaded and stripped of potency. Similarly, tying descriptions and genre labelling to Belfast's Unyielding Love, once they've been truly experienced, seems not only difficult, but also unjust and lazy, such is the enigmatic faculty they wield so effortlessly.
While comparisons to Dendritic Arbor and Discordance Axis most definitely set the scene (and while these bands have more 'going on' upstairs than simply their combined tumult), Unyielding Love are gifted/cursed with the ability to present an all too tangible, turbulent reaction to anxiety, illness and restlessness that makes 'The Sweat of Augury' one of the finest releases of 2016.
Much like their literally blood-, sweat- and sparks-filled live expressions, 'The Sweat...' is a taught, unnerving, blackened grinding bellow of striking viciousness that is wholly professional and refined beyond the band's active years. Despite the harshness and direct aggression of their marvellous racket - essentially grindcore with equal parts hardcore and grating noise elements - Unyielding Love's final product is less straightforward.
With traces of black metal and the murkier, discordant recesses of concurrent death metal atop their yield, as well as the use of noise as an integral component in proceedings, this EP could almost be the perfect sonic accompaniment to Full of Hell's 2014 collaboration with Merzbow were it not for those traces of uneasiness that has it stray closer to the bleak brilliance of Column of Heaven.
Indeed, this surely is an act that's threatening, unruly and haunting - in the most real sense - but its violence is pointed inward, directed at notions of the self and the brutal truth of human frailty, especially when faced with the twin grimaces of mental and physical illness. Yet none of this appears superficial or contrived. The band's addressing of these topics is fresh, real and utterly personal, and as much as their live contortions are nothing short of spectacle, they are cathartic episodes for themselves alone; the audiences just happen to bear witness.
For Unyielding Love, 'The Sweat...' is a distilled purging, if only for its brief duration. The quartet exist now as a band very much of their time with releases that have bottled contemporary discontent - something never in short supply on the Emerald Isle. This lyrically strong, more sombre (and interesting) aural treatment of human nature sidesteps the adolescent, soapbox weltpolitik that often litters the (safe) spaces occupied by grind and hardcore and thus works to catapult the band into auspicious realms.