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Dark Half Rising
October 2013
Released: 2013, Massacre Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

Another first, this is our first review of Finland’s Unshine. After a pair of low-key releases on the small, but respected Low Frequency Record label, Unshine makes the jump to the bigger leagues by signing with Massacre Records. The first thing I noticed was the gorgeous album cover art, depicting a night scene eagle fighting a wild boar in a backdrop of fire. Very cool!

Unshine define themselves as ‘Druid Metal’ which is a good a description as any I suppose. There certainly is a serene and ethereal nature about some of the songs, without being too folk-oriented. Don’t misunderstand, I love Folk Metal but this is less about Korpiklaani and more about the understated side of Eluvietie perhaps. DARK HALF RISING is certainly on the mellower side of the Metal spectrum but without slipping into weepy, gothic romanticism. The very sweet vocals of Susanna Vesilahti are certainly a highlight and while very sweet and soft in her delivery she does not employ a soaring soprano style; she has more of a tuneful lilt to her style. She has a really nice cadence to her singing and her accent adds to the mystique. She is certainly an asset to this band.

The songs are very well orchestrated with symphonic parts, (cello, violin, acoustic stuff) but rarely bombastic in tone or tempo, and there are other audio components to keep the listeners engaged such as sound effects, whispered male vocals, and some more traditional celtic-sounding instrumentation. Fortunately the band does not forget they are Metal and much of the song-writing while subdued is dark and there is a nice intensity. A good example of this blend is the track’ Their Horses Never Never Touch Then Ground’, with a swelling double-kick drum part in the middle and some cello-like instrumentation to wind down the track at the end. The band is not afraid to stretch out with songs like ‘Ikuinen Taistelu’ which runs almost 13 minutes and draws you in from the extended deep and somber spoken word introduction to the very end, spanning across several mini-suites of various tine and tempo to the uplifting finale, it is a magnificent composition.

There is a soundtrack-like quality to the presentation of the songs on DARK HALF RISING and in many ways this reminds me of some King Diamond material, dark, unstated and written directly and simply, but still firmly metal, with all these wonderful sonic flourishes to keep us engaged. This is a crowded and popular sub-genre the folk/pagan realms of Northern Europe but with DARK HALF RISING, the band have added a unique twist and dimension that makes them especially worth discovering for yourself.
Track Listing

1. Nadja's Wailing About Coming of the Frost
2. The Oath to Wilderness of Unredeemed Nature
3. Arduinna
4. Spellbinder
5. Defender of His Faith
6. Their Horses Never Touch the Ground
7. Idyl
8. The Blood of Ardennes
9. Ikuinen Taistelu
10. Bone Fires
11. Ategenos (At the Death of Winter)


Susanna Vesilahti Vocals
Jari Hautala Guitar
Harri Hautala Guitar, Keyboards
Teemu Vähäkangas Bass
Jukka Hantula Drums

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