When Mauser left VADER I was a bit taken back. He was one of my favorite Death Metal guitarists and I had always loved everything that came out of his amplifier, but he had left my favorite Death Metal band to focus on his new band UNSUN. So of course, as the fan I am, I bought UNSUN the day it came out. Mauser fans beware though – this is a whole new guitarist and this is a very different band.
UNSUN is Gothic Metal. I know it’s hard to image the Death Metal guitar monster playing melodic rhythms and solos that don’t require a SLAYER influence, but it’s all true and you can hear it on the band’s debut “The End Of Life”. This album is brimming with melodies (whether it’s the keyboards, guitars, or vocalist Aya) and its written to be catchy, soft, and pleasurable to the ears.
The vocalist Aya is probably the most upfront element of the band and she delivers very soulful vocals that tend to bring to mind the new vocalist for NIGHTWISH. In fact, a lot of the writing is very similar to an un-symphonic version of said band. But her voice, although beautiful and soothing, does become a bit repetitive by the end of the album and does nothing to really make a unique stance for itself. Having male vocals counter hers on “Lost Innocence” makes that song instantly stand out from the rest and it works well for the dynamics. Unfortunately, that element never reappears.
But besides Aya, much of the instrumental side of UNSUN also becomes a bit run of the mill. Occasionally there is a very catchy synth line (check out the beautiful piano on “Face The Truth”) and many of the more aggressive guitar parts popped against the melodic side to catch my ear. All of the members give good solid performances but there isn’t any that blew me away. They are all good enough to make this album solid but I kept expecting a song to just pull all the stops and just sweep me away. Only to have a few songs impress me with sections (the Modern Metal sounding song “The Other Side” does have some damn cool guitar parts) instead of entire songs or even the entire album.
From the few Gothic Metal bands that I have heard, UNSUN doesn’t separate itself enough to really be a massive force. It’s a great debut and its solid but I wanted it to destroy its contenders. I am impressed at the range Mauser is able to play and this shows a new softer side of him, but in the end it just ends up stuck in the pack. Perhaps UNSUN just wanted to play it safe on “The End Of Life” to test the waters before taking a full on plunge. In which case, I will still be here to support them.
Songs to check out: “The Other Side”, “Whispers”, “Face The Truth”.
(Online November 7, 2008)