Thursday, February 24, 2011

Uncanny - MCMXCI – MCMXCIV


Uncanny
MCMXCI – MCMXCIV
Dark Descent Records

Unless you’re well versed in the history of the Swedish death metal scene, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of Uncanny, much less owned any of their recorded output.
Uncanny wasn’t what you’d call a groundbreaking act in terms of defining the Swedish death metal movement, nor what you would call them an incredibly successful act while they were active (They formed in 1990, and disbanded in 1994). But despite this, the band’s only full-length album ‘Splenium For Nyktophobia’ (Released in 1994 through Unisound Records) is still highly regarded amongst those in the know, and as such is a highly sought after item that has long been out of print.
Perhaps due in part to the success the members enjoyed after the band has long split (Vocalist Jens Törnroos went onto S.G.R. and Interment, guitarist Fredrik Norrman was in Katatonia and October Tide, guitarist Mats Forsell founded the short-lived Fulmination, bassist Christoffer Harborg was a member of S.G.R. and drummer Ken Englund was involved in Centinex, Interment and Dellamorte), and the scarcity of the band’s original recordings, Dark Descent Records has decided to put together a comprehensive double album of all of Uncanny’s recorded efforts together under the name of ‘MCMXCI – MCMXCIV’.
‘MCMXCI – MCMXCIV’ is a lavish package, and one that definitely does justice to Uncanny’s largely unrecognized contribution to the Swedish death metal scene. In other words, this is exactly the sort of release fans of Uncanny, and quality old school death metal could ever possibly want in a re-release.
The first disc of this double set is Uncanny’s only full-length effort ‘Splenium For Nyktophobia’, which has been given a complete remaster, with the album’s thirteen tracks sounding better than ever. You would be hard pressed to say that Uncanny were the most original death metal act to ever emerge from the Swedish scene. But anything the band lacked in innovation, they certainly made up in terms of doing what they did – they did exceeding well. From fast paced blasting efforts such as ‘Elohim’, ‘Tales From The Tomb’, ‘Screaming In Phobia’ and ‘Sprangskitten’, the more groove orientated slabs of death in ‘Brain Access’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Soul Incest’ and ‘The Final Conflict (The Pornoflute Pt. II)’, right through to the experimental ‘Lepra’, the group’s cover of G-Anx’s ‘Enkelbiljetten’ and the orchestral closer ‘Splenium For Nyktophobia’, Uncanny’s debut is nothing short of a great listen from start to end.
The real collector will no doubt be interested in the second disc of this set, which collates the band’s six track demo ‘Transportation To The Uncanny’ from 1991, their five track ‘Nyktalgia’ demo from 1992 and the six tracks that appeared on their split with Ancient Rites in 1993 (Through Warmaster Records).
Although the second disc does feature a fair bit of repetition were you compare the track listing on their debut album, and the recording quality is of a varying quality (Who would have expected otherwise?), the second disc does at least manage to finally house everything the band recorded prior to recording their debut onto the one disc, and all with a remastered sound.
The release of ‘MCMXCI – MCMXCIV’ isn’t about to rewrite the history of the Swedish death metal scene, nor garnish Uncanny success on a worldwide scale. But what this release does, is offer fans of the cult underground act to finally enjoy Uncanny’s music without resorting to paying ridiculous prices (Or downloading) for what amounts to a poorly produced bootleg, and allows ‘Splenium For Nyktophobia’ to be revived from virtual obscurity in all its old school glory.

For more information on Uncanny, check out - http://www.myspace.com/uncanny666

© Justin Donnelly