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Unreqvited – Beautiful Ghosts Award winner

Beautiful Ghosts
by Andrew Graham at 20 August 2021, 5:57 PM

Who doesn’t love a mysterious and elusive post-black metal solo artist? I know I do! Adding another entry into what is already a considerable catalogue of works, UNREQVITED have set loose Beautiful Ghosts into the world. The creation of 鬼 (a Japanese character meaning ghost or spirit), UNREQVUTED has pioneered a unique style of what could broadly be called post-black metal. Whilst hardly optimistic or outright happy-sounding (indeed the name of the band refers to the kind of love that is not reciprocated – ouchie!), major keys can be found aplenty, lending moments of real beauty and warmth to the darkness on display – because emotions be complicated, yo!

Album opener “All Is Lost” hurls us neck deep into some pretty tempestuous emotions. The trademark pained shrieking in the background is immediately apparent, along with densely layered guitars and mournful synths. 鬼 claims this album is about love and that is clear from the moods evoked. Emotions are chaotic and sweet in the most frightening way – like I said, emotions are complicated, and when love is involved that is certainly the case! “Autumn & Everley” opens with a gentle and melancholy piano melody, which builds up in the drums and guitars before giving way to blastbeats and grandiose orchestral scenes on keyboards. Quiet and tender moments break up the storm of emotions before all fades away.

“Reverie” is a hauntingly beautiful walk in the emotional wilderness, signposted by clean vocal sighs of melancholic despair (not sure how else to describe it really!) As the central point around which the other tracks balance out, “Funeral Pyre” has a lot of pressure on it to stand out. It more than delivers on this promise, with sweeping orchestral backdrops, solitary piano notes and 鬼’s panged shrieks bookended by truly gorgeous moments of quiet contemplation filled out with clean vocal cooing. “Cherish” allows the listener a moment of bittersweet reflection. The piano melodies on display are genuinely beautiful and soulful, lacking the sickly-sweet quality that one might expect of such material.

All this leads us to the title-track, “Beautiful Ghosts”, which is something of a crescendo that the rest of this record has been leading up to. Ominous notes open the track, delving deeply into feelings of despair and loss. After nearly two minutes the emotional baggage breaks loose into full-blown turmoil. Brief flares of black metal blastbeats accentuate this wild ride, building on several influences. Shoegazey layered guitars and background picked melodies form a nice backdrop against which the orchestral synths and vocals can shine. The last minutes of this track feature the kind of richly painted orchestral grandeur that groups like NIGHTWISH would be proud of (yes, I said it and I stand by it!)

Final track “All Is Found” forms something of a mirror image to its opening counterpoint “All Is Lost”. Thematically they compliment one another, like yin and yang. Whereas “All Is Lost” is steeped in emotional turbulence and angst, “All Is Found” has a distinct feeling of acceptance and peace about it, which is a deeply satisfying conclusion to this symphony of deep and difficult emotions. The storm of emotions we have seen up to now is absent, and all that is left is a bittersweet sense of calm, victory even – victory after having mounted such tall and violent emotional peaks.

Make no mistake, this is a great album. Is it one of my top albums of the year? Yes! It is composed of real feeling and eloquence of musical language. Conveying emotion in music is not terrifically difficult, but this deals with such complex and deep emotions as to be worthy of something like high art (if I can use that term and not sound like a snob!) It really feels like a high point that the rest of the UNREQVITED discography has been slowly building up to. This will see a lot of mileage in my music collection for a long time to come!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 10
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. All Is Lost
2. Autumn & Everley
3. Reverie
4. Funeral Pyre
5. Cherish
6. Beautiful Ghosts
7. All Is Found
– All instruments
Record Label: Prophecy Productions


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Edited 31 March 2023

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