Confessor - Unraveled - Season Of Mist 2006
Running Time: 46:42
A slight nod to what's been going on while Confessor was away, "Cross The Bar" blends molasses-thick Crowbar crawl with surprisingly clean leads to create a witch's brew of sludge/doom. Jeffreys' pipes are still planted firmly in the clear midrange, perceptions gravitating between crystalline or unlistenable, depending on if your doom fandom leans more towards Solitude Aeturnus and Trouble or Khanate-styled abysmal devastation. "Until Tomorrow" returns us to the Confessor of the past, black waves of doom bathing the listener near the three-and-a-half minute mark, rolling out of a deceptively technical chorus. Drone invocations threaten to drag down the vocals from time to time, but isn't that what this style of music is about anyway? Drums pull the tempo of "Wigstand" along in the way of Alice In Chains' more fractured material ("Sludge Factory", etc.), reminding us that the grunge scene owed just as heavy a debt to Sabbath and Blue Cheer as it did to Green River and The Jesus Lizard. Still and all, the Staley/Cantrell are a bit too telling in parts of "Blueprint Soul" for my taste. The first time around - and through much of Unraveled -, Confessor is very much a singular beast, no one having bred technical wizardry with such pulverizing doom in their absence, and few do these days. A memorable, catchy hook though has "Blueprint Soul", and its chorus is one I find slithering through my head at odd hours of the night. As sluggish as the former track is, "The Downside" is a churning, shifting collision of riff and rhythm, jagged chordings slicing through monolithic slabs of heaviness to create a tune that is undeniably one of Confessor's finest. Shades of prog/power harmonies grace the chorus of "Sour Times", which first appeared on last year's comeback EP of that title, proving that there's little that this band can't turn into gold if it has a mind to, and to take a different tangent, the angular riffs of "Hibernation" wouldn't sound out of place were someone to drop a massive low end on the uber-virtuosity of Atheist. The McCoy / Shoaf guitar duo fills the album with class, their leadwork as fluid as it is stratospheric, recalling equal parts Candlemass and Captain Beyond. Ending with "Strata Of Fear", Confessor takes the most twisted, slithering parts of Unraveled thus far, and embracing the listener with all the care of a hungry python. The taunting "I play dead." lyric in the outro may be a nod to the band's decade-long hiatus, but it also serves as a warning for what's to come from this doom powerhouse.
In closing, Unraveled is not an album to be taken lightly. It's also doesn't lend itself easily to "background music" status. Proof for me lies in the fact that until the fourth or fifth listen, I really couldn't think why they bothered. Slowly, though, Unraveled grew on me, like poison vines 'round a decaying building. In this age of cash-grab reunions and one-off "original lineup" shows, Confessor has with little fanfare outside the doom nation returned to pound out one of the most impressive comebacks of the year.