Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Unguided-Fragile Immortality

Napalm Records

Formed in 2010, following Richard Sjunnesson departure from Sonic Syndicate over an apparent disagreement over the new musical direction that was being chosen by said band, Sweden's The Unguided, which also features Roger Sjunnesson and former members of Sonic Syndicate, are a difficult band to put to paper. Dubbed "melodic death metal" by many, which would seem to be lazy description given everything that this band brings to the party (or at least on their sophomore full-length album "Fragile Immortality"), this Swedish band stretches the musical boundaries of death metal while unleashing an album that is far too good to be ignored! After a few spins of this release (the first full-length studio album from The Unguided since 2011's "Hell Frost") "Fragile Immortality" left me with more than just a favorable impression! Is this another album in the early running then for my 2014 "Best Of" list? I'd say so. Music-wise Sweden's The Unguided could be seen as Sonic Syndicate part two. Or at least where Sonic Syndicate should have headed before they went off into this odd pop direction! That much I do realize. But, before we look over why I love this release so much let's look at who is who in this Swedish metal band. Harsh vocals are taken care of by Richard Sjunnesson (ex-Fallen Angels, ex-Amaranthe (live), ex-Faithful Darkness, ex-Sonic Syndicate) while Roland Johansson (ex-Sonic Syndicate, ex-Dodge), who is also the band's lead guitarist, handles the clean ones. Meanwhile Richard's brother Roger (ex-Sonic Syndicate, ex-Fallen Angels) plays rhythm guitar and performs the keyboard parts while Henric Liljesand (Cipher System, ex-Eternal Grief, Lavett, ex-Nightrage, ex-Dead by April) plays bass. Drum duties fall to the capable hands of Richard Schill (Acacia, Level Above Human, Vile Scar, ex-Livsnekad, ex-Shining, ex-Spawn of Possession). OK, with that out of the way let's see if I can (hopefully) pin-point what it is about The Unguided that I find so appealing. I admit (begrudgingly) that you could start with "melodic death metal". All of the elements that make for a good melodic death metal band are here. Great musicians playing death metal with clean lines and precision-timing. Melodic passages that give way to brutal lead guitar solos (Roland Johansson provides seriously wicked guitar work throughout this album!) and keyboard parts that create beauty out of what would otherwise be seen as pure darkness. The new band has all that down pat. However, a release like this one is also different then the bulk of melodic death metal bands thanks to the expert way in which the band utilizes both harsh and clean. The harsh vocals provided by Richard Sjunnesson are pure death growls. It's death metal 101 and Richard does it near perfectly. Then you have the clean vocals of Roland Johansson and, to put in bluntly, here we have an individual who could EASILY be fronting his own heavy/power metal outfit! Yes, he is that good! It's not enough that you have one band that is blessed with TWO excellent lead singers. All of which shows how good a band like The Unguided is in just in regards to that one department alone! But, and this will sound weird coming from me, the one thing that really kicks up this release another notch isn't the vocal interplay but rather the very cool keyboards! The best way I could describe them (and this is odd folks) is if you were to pluck the keyboard parts from some of the better synth rock/new wave acts of eighties and (maybe) some of the more unique keyboard work of  90's alternative rock/shoeglaze bands and, after giving them a more "modern metal" once-over, squished them into a Swedish melodic death band with dreams of world conquest! On one hand it's weird and yet, somehow and someway, it's always quite infectious! When it's placed next to metallic, near thrash-like guitar riffs you would think that it wouldn't work right? But it really does and it's that kind of balance which, just like the harsh and clean vocal combination, lifts this one above merely "interesting" into "excellent"! Needless to say "Fragile Immortality" is one new release that is highly recommended!

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home