Unshine – Astrala

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: April 2018
Released: Jan 19th (EU) Feb 9th (North America) on Rockshots Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Rebekah Ann

Unshine are a Finnish quintet with four previous albums under their belt, after moving around releasing their albums through different record labels they have settled with Rockshots Records who have just released their latest offering Astrala. Rockshots Records should be a good connection for them as they have several acts signed to them within the same sub-genre and have worked with metal heavy-weights such as Venom, Vader and Tristiana. Their self claimed title of ‘druid metal’ is slightly jarring, as they sound somewhere between Gothic/symphonic metal, with power metal triumpancy and pagan metal theme, but hey, they created the pseudonym so they can choose what it should sound like I guess….

Their influences for this album are stated as nature, forests, mythology and folklore, which does come across in the album though their use of electronic samples and instrumentation doesn’t exactly feel like communing with the ancients. Maybe its not supposed to, maybe its supposed to sound like cheerful computerised elves skipping through forests, dodging trolls and picking mushrooms, which it does. I feel this sub-genre of metal really needs compelling female vocals to capture the sacred feminine aspect and vocalist Susanna Vesilahti’s delicately ethereal voice fits wonderfully and wills you to listen to more. There’s some great instrumentation, using 2 guitarists creates a wonderful layered affect, nice changes of tempo and atmosphere and all combined it creates a jolly escapade.

The album starts with an innocuous instrumental musing, but the next track ‘Kainun Kuningas’ sonically prods you to gain your attention. Its one the best on the album due to, perhaps the juxtaposition between the first track, Vesilahtis weaving vocal themes, powerful nu-metal sounding guitar tone and catchy melody lines. ‘The Druids Are A-Coming’ is another stand-out track; a pleasing combination of a well written catchy, almost pop song, chugging guitar riffs, dreamy vocals, nice tempo changes and a sing-a-long chorus. The addition of different vocal styles in both female and male parts are interesting to listen to, from melodic chanting to whisperings, along with the well written guitar chord progressions. Subsequently, the rest of the album merges into an acceptable swirling myriad of similar themes and ideas, though verging on cheesy and forgettable at times.

‘Astrala’ is a difficult one to rate, the structure is good, if a little monotonous at times, there are memorable parts as there are instantly forgettable parts. The vocals are really key to this album, as are the melody lines, but the daft electronic samples don’t bring anything to it apart from the odd chuckle. In conclusion, this isn’t an album I’ll be revisiting, my attention waned and it sounded dated but is by no means offensive, maybe your gothling younger sister would appreciate it or more likely your velvet wearing ageing uncle. A solid 3.5/5

 


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Tracklisting:
1. Birch of Fornjot (1:35)
2. Kainun Kuningas (5:13)
3. Jack͛s Feast (6:38)
4. The Masks of Enchantment (4:54)
5. Pan The One (4:44)
6. Druids Are A-Coming (4:11)
7. Slow Moving Creatures (5:19)
8. Visionary͛s Last Breath (5:32)
9. Suo (Kantaa Ruumiit) (6:06)
10. The Forest (10:28)

Band line-up:
Vocals – Susanna Vesilahti
Guitars and Keyboard – Harri Hautala
Guitar – Jari Hautala
Bass – Teemu Vahakangas
Drums and Percussion – Jukka Hantula

Website: www.unshine.com