Released: 2008, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Unabashedly European in both style and structure, THE END OF LIFE, the debut album from Poland’s Unsun, draws out mixed feelings. On one hand, the goth-pop songs come across as catchy but light and fluffy. On the other, this genre has been done to death on both sides of the Atlantic by far better bands than Unsun, so where does this leave a new group looking to leave its mark? Fans of Lullacry, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, etc. will probably find plenty to enjoy on THE END OF LIFE but this is lite-metal at its heaviest and glossy pop at the other end of the spectrum.
What might catch many listeners off-guard is the fact that the founder of Unsun is none other than ex-Vader guitarist, Mauser, whose split from the Polish death metal monsters paved the way for he and his vocalist/wife, Aya, to form this band. Mauser’s guitar playing has obviously been toned down from his Vader days in favor of melodic hooks and melodies. There is plenty of crunch on “Bring Me To Heaven” and Mauser unleashes a stellar solo on the otherwise drippy ballad, “Memories,” so he manages to fill any angle. At times, though, the guitars take on a chug that will have many drawing ugly nu-metal parallels (“The Other Side,” “On The Edge”) no one wants to be associated with. Aya’s vocals are high-pitched and heavily processed which leads one to question how strong her singing actually is. She looks fantastic in the promo photos but a pretty face does not make a good song. Her accent is thick and pronounced, as well, making songs like “Blinded By Hatred” a bit awkward but she really shines on the balladry of “Face The Truth” and gets help from Mauser vocally on the Lacuna Coil-like “Lost Innocence.” With the rhythm section of Heinrich and Vaaver adding a bouncy groove to “Closer To Death,” the song is rescued from pop-metal hell, but just barely. The electronic samples that make up “Indifference” are especially troubling to these ears. Maybe it is the distant memory of Mauser crushing through LITANY and REVELATIONS then reinventing himself as a purveyor of Euro club music that set me off but even on its own, this track stands out like a sore thumb among the rest of the record.
One cannot fault Mauser for following his own path and leaving Vader after ten years to form Unsun. Certainly, there will be a few fans of his work that will check out THE END OF LIFE based solely on the fact his name is attached but this is a very, very different musical venture than his previous outfit, so be warned. THE END OF LIFE faces a hard road ahead as Unsun ventures into the genre’s crowded waters. Female-fronted lite-metal bands are a dime a dozen in Europe these days and THE END OF LIFE doesn’t offer much in terms of variety or character to stand out above the rest but fans of the genre will probably find something to latch on to here.
KILLER KUTS: “Whispers,” “Face The Truth,” “Bring Me To Heaven”