Into the Obscure: Epoch of Unlight – The Continuum Hypothesis

We all have our dirty metal secrets that we selfishly keep to ourselves, only sharing with a select few close to us. Or alternatively, we incessantly talk up underground gems and spread the gospel to anyone that will listen, as we cherish our slice of underground cred. Into the Obscure aims to right the wrongs and unearth the artists/albums that for whatever unjust reason didn’t get the exposure or credit they sorely deserved the first time round.

Across three LPs between 1998 and 2005, Tennessee’s Epoch of Unlight created a minor buzz in the underground, before falling off the radar on a recording front, only emerging intermittently. However, as is the design of this feature, I am here to advocate for a criminally underrated and hugely talented band, worthy of respect. Although 1998’s What Will Be Has Been, and 2001’s stellar sophomore album Caught in the Unlight, are fine albums in their own right, it was their third LP, The Continuum Hypothesis that elevated Epoch of Unlight’s music to a new level of excellence. Still active, and with a new song and album on the horizon in 2022, what better time to reflect on the understated brilliance of The Continuum Hypothesis.

Despite a couple of line-up changes, The Continuum Hypothesis did not bring forth a drastic reinvention of their unique brand of thrashy, complex and melodic black metal. However, the writing, intensity and compositional prowess was refined and kicked up a couple of gears, featuring a more dynamic and progressive edge. Epoch of Unlight unleashed an explosively entertaining platter, packed to the hilt with scything, infectious riffs, bombastic percussive battery, and the frostbitten atmosphere, venomous aggression, and strong melodic undercurrent synonymous with the second wave. Throw in a distinctive American black metal edge, flashes of Gothenburg melo-death, and a clean yet endearingly underground production, and Epoch of Unlight delivered their magnum opus, executed with style, substance and raw, skin-flaying aggression.

Although melody is a key attribute, Epoch of Unlight pull no punches, crafting a memorable and addictive album, though one relentlessly speedy, complex, abrasive, and borderline chaotic in nature. While there is enough immediacy and gratifying hooks to reel the listener in and add a shred of accessibility, The Continuum Hypothesis can be an exhausting and challenging ride. The payoff is well worth the investment, with repeat listens allowing the opportunity to dissect the album’s intricacies, fostering a more immersive and intimate connection with the album’s relentless, blackened charms. There is an invigorating, blood-pumping urgency brimming from every frantic note, kicking off with the striking melodies and vicious thrashing of the title track, closing with a delicate climax. From here onwards the quality and consistency does not let up. “Argentum Era Secui Duos” crams so many ideas, riffs and drum patterns that it feels like it’s about to burst. It’s a blazing, epic composition and early album highlight. The unfuckwithable trio of back-to-back thrash-laden, cutthroat delights of ‘Cardinality,” “Highgate,” and “The End of it All” showcase the album’s strengths, while demonstrating the melodic, epic and icy majesty of their writing.

New band members BJ Cook (vocals) and Jash Braddock (guitars) continue the fiery spirit of their predecessors, making their presence felt. Braddock handles all guitar and delivers the goods in spades. Quality riffs fly thick and fast from Braddock’s axe, forming a kinetic chemistry with his bandmates and dishing up loads of standout moments. When he channels some deathly influences or rips out an old-school thrash solo, to embellish the smorgasbord of frenetic black metal riffage, Braddock’s positive influence is slammed home. Meanwhile, Cook gets the job done with his biting higher pitched blackened snarl and relentlessly aggressive, motor-mouthed delivery, neatly matching the album’s speedy execution.

However, a discussion about Epoch of Unlight is not complete without mentioning founding member and chief mastermind, drummer Tino LiSocco. Rarely have I encountered a black metal drummer with such an explosively creative repertoire of rhythmic tools, technical chops and boundless energy. LiSocco delivers in spades with a bombastic. gripping performance. Epoch of Unlight is not dead and buried yet, despite The Continuum Hypothesis being their most recent full-length. They carved an impressive trio of top-shelf US black metal albums from’98-05′, capped off by the triumphant brilliance of The Continuum Hypothesis. Whether they can reclaim the glory remains to be seen, however, I strongly urge listeners partial to riff-stacked thrashy, melodic, yet seething black metal to delve into the manic, blackened savagery of Epoch of Unlight.

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