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Well, this review is yet another result of hopping around different artists on YouTube. They seemed kinda interesting, so I though "Meh, why the hell not?" and sat down to look at an entire album. But before I actually start reviewing, can someone please explain to me how I can go from Unsun to Nekrogoblikon in the space of three videos? Talk about things escalating quickly...
Anyway, back on track. UnSun is a Polish gothic metal band formed by Mauser of Vader. A bit of a change of pace, but probably not all too surprising given that his wife fronts the band. Unfortunately though people seemed to be unaware of Mauser's pedigree so he had to resort to playing the hot frontwoman card and put Aya on the cover art in order to try and entice listeners. It always makes me cringe when I see something like this, no matter whether it's a good band like Imperia or a shit one like Drain. Generally speaking, it doesn't tend to be a good sign though. Thankfully here the music isn't all that bad.
Seeing as she's the cover star and clearly meant to be the centre of attention, let's start with Aya's performance. It's actually a bit of a misleading one and it is difficult to say exactly whether she's good or not. Her range isn't incredible, but she does appear to have a decent voice, one that appeals to me at least. But at the same time, the thick accent is really quite irritating at times, particularly on Whispers. And there are other times that I find myself wishing that she would just hand over to someone else who would fit in slightly better with what is going on behind her. The fact that she seems to be too far forward in the mix is not a great way of making her seem better either as it makes other parts of the band redundant since they can't be heard.
The guitar work is also an odd thing to comment on because at various points it seems interesting. In the same way as with Vader I find the solos to be by far the best part of the band, but the riffs are actually surprisingly strong for a gothic band. They don't just chug along in the typical metalcore fashion either, which is a pleasant change. I just wish that they were slightly more prominent instead of being buried behind the chick who pronounces stuff strangely.
There are a few issues with the lyrics that the people who care about deep and soulful messages will no doubt point out, but I really don't care. Aya's accent obscures what she's singing about anyway, so what does it matter? But yeah, if you're really into that stuff then you might find this to be too simple and fairly shallow for the most part. Judging from their Facebook page English isn't their strongest point, but hey, the music is appealing.
If you're after some decent drumming action, you're going to be disappointed (although anyone that thinks they'll find Krimh-level of drumming in a gothic metal band is clearly not using their brain properly). For the majority of this album the drumming is slow and plodding, not adding anything and buried deep in the mix. It might as well have just been programmed. And if the bass is your favourite part of the band (again, I must question what you're hoping to find here or indeed in most metal bands) then you'll fail to find anything of value here either. Let's be real here, the guitars struggle to find their way to the surface, how on Earth do you expect the bass to do the same?
A matter that needs addressing here though is over the keyboards. According to the credits for the members then there wasn't a keyboardist on The End of Life, but I've listened to it over and over and every single time I find myself struck by how obvious it is that there is one. Really people, can we honestly say that the bassist or drummer is making the light tinkering noise of a piano on Memories or in the background of so many other tracks? Seems unlikely to me. There must be a keyboardist in this band, and it really is a shame that he/she is not credited because their work makes up a large portion of the enjoyment supplied on The End of Life.
All in all this record is definitely worth checking out and I'm surprised to say that Mauser has actually lived up to his reputation with this release. I'd also add that this is not the typical style of modern gothic metal that is so overused nowadays and so is worth listening to if you're in the mood for something different.
So yeah, this is a little poppy goth metal band with a cute little blonde singer, but I kinda like it… Hard to defend this, huh?
I realize this is exactly the kind of band that gives people the most material to complain about, from the "female singers exploitation" to the accusations of this music just being formulaic pop or emo in disguise. And it's not that I find Unsun great either, certainly not. But for some reason, I think they are not really worth hating, and, the few times I find myself listening to them, I don't think it is a total waste of time.
Why are they not great yet somewhat enjoyable? First, let's talk about what they do right. I wouldn't call this music true old school gothic metal, but this does have a dark, cold and somewhat otherworldly atmosphere. Not to great lengths, but you still feel it, notably with the beautiful, ethereal ballads "Destiny" and "Memories". The music knows when to be mellow, when to have more energy, and there are some catchy riffs. While there may be many bands doing something better with that idea, Unsun does succeed at playing a (sort of) heavy and dark music with a beautiful female voice over it.
And then, sorry not to use my own words, but there is something to be said about "Narm Charm". This refers to any kind of fiction and music that is mostly ridiculous, cheesy and awkward, but avoids being bad because there is at least one thing it does right or because the audience has a rather high tolerance for cheese. Now, enough theory, time for concrete examples.
Going back to the riffs, they are more modern metal than doom or goth rock, and you might call them repetitive and simple, but you still feel the power in the intros to "Lost Innocence", "Ignorance" and "Bring Me To Heaven". Related to the beautiful female voice, Aya Stefanowicz is unfortunately not a great singer, with her hokey accent and sometimes shaky voice. However, her voice gets a little more tolerable when you notice the contrast with the big, deep-sounding riffs. And she does put some emotion in her vocals.
As for the lyrics, yes, you could reasonably say that they read like "mall goth teenage girl LiveJournal poetry", especially the ones for "Bring Me To Heaven"… and yet, there is something I find quite touching about them. Go figure. In "Lost Innocence", some lyrics are quite clumsy, but you still can feel sorry for the little girl of the song. I guess lyrics like these get much less embarrassing when the music and vocals are emotional enough.
So this is either a perfect guilty pleasure or a surely not exceptional but acceptable record. You can take a few minutes to listen to something that doesn't impress but still feels good. Of course, there would be many other and better not great but tolerable records, or records you could enjoy ironically, but this is one of those I like. Unsun is not the best gothic metal band out there, but they are one of those I'd remember. So do as you like with "The End of Life"...
As I found out more and more about the lighter sub-genres of metal, I found out more and more about it, thanks to bands like Epica, Elis, Lacuna Coil, and Sirenia, but the only real reason I got into UnSun was because I'm also a big Vader fan, but despite UnSun being the most recent gothic metal band I found out about, I'll say they have their faults, I'm not going to nit pick on little things, but the gothic metal at the beginning was nice, I didn't hate any particular song, but the industrial metal song at the end, do I need to say again to leave Rammstein to take care of the industrial metal, industrial metal is better off in a purely industrial metal album, mixing it with gothic, symphonic, heavy, thrash, death, doom, anything really fucks up the album from my point of view. I'm not saying it absolutely sucks because of their attempt at industrial metal at the end because I thought the industrial metal song was okay, but putting industrial metal in a gothic metal album is like putting rap in a death metal album. Though enough talk of industrial metal, let's get this started.
Even though Vader is the reason I found out about UnSun, Mauser didn't leave Vader to play bull shit, and he didn't, he came to play good music, and he accomplished his mission here, I actually liked this, despite some bull shit I may get, here I found nothing wrong with it except yeah, yeah, the industrial metal at the end, but it's better than tossing it in the middle of the god damn album. But I found the vocals to be the best part, it's supposed to be like that in lighter sub-genres of metal, it's an irony of sorts and many bands that play this kind of music use this same tactic, but I found the vocals the best part because I think she does just fine being a frontwoman for this band, she has a voice that can sing you to sleep and I find nothing wrong with her using it, but I will admit when she starts to take it too high, it does relate to a four year old girl screaming at the top of her lungs, however, I'd chooses Ada screaming at the top of her lungs over a 4 year old girl screaming, it keeps my hearing for a lot longer. Instrumental wise, they were just as good, though the moments of them playing instrumental are usually very limited in time and have a rare occurence, she does need to realize the show is not all about her, but it's not like UnSun is the only band with this problem. But still, I found Mauser did great with the guitar of his, and their bassist and drummer were just as good doing their part. I like the solos they put in some songs like on Destiny, which was probably the best solo on the album. Their riffs were suitable for gothic metal and had little to nothing to improve on. As far as the drumming goes, they were a good addition to the instrumental part of this, during the chorus', verses, and riffs, they were just fine, and nothing to improve on. Bass lines were just fine, but a bass solo here and there would be great.
For criticism, I have little to say is wrong with this, but for the things I find, they typically are big things. First, I god damn hate it when people say this is pop or alternative, you are a gothic METAL band, so you do need to add some heavy parts instrumentally. Secondly, when the vocals get too high, it does get on the annoying side, keep them low to mid pitched and were on the same page. Third, vocals solos were pretty high in number, you could cut down on them a bit.
Now, every song on here was worth it, even the industrial metal song was, but beyond the shadow of a doubt, Whispers was the best song of all of them, Destiny, On The Edge, Closer to Death, Bring Me the Heaven, and Lost Innocence were the best songs, and having six good songs that stand out will get the job done, the rest of them were either good or mediocre.
So to end, UnSun got to a pretty good start, but they do have some things to improve for any future albums they make. But all you gothic and symphonic metal bands, for now, you may want to stick with other bands such as: Sirenia, Within Temptation, Elis, Epica, Lacuna Coil, Visions of Atlantis, Imperia, and Aesma Daeva for now. But keep a look out for the second UnSun album coming out sometime along the line.
This band is very obviously some sort of cash in just from the visage of the female vocalist. (Who just so happens to be the wife of well known guitarist Mauser from Vader.) From the sight of the band I've gotta say Mauser has married himself a fine piece of ass to tap which is probably the reason why this album, and band exist. Could be completely wrong but this band seems to have some sort of talent which might justify their reason for existing.
So anyway since she is on the cover of the album front and center on a pedestal let's criticize the singer first shall we?? She seems to have an eye for catchy melodies in her vocals which is essential to pop goth metal, and is shown off on Bring me to Heaven, and Destiny. This is not to say that her vocal performance is perfect, it is extremely flawed because she has no range, and stays mostly within the same 1-2 octaves throughout the album. This might make her live performance easier but it probably won't help since most of these female fronted goth metal bands are just the product of record label trend jumping, and thus usually have no talent.
Something tells me that Aya would be better off singing in her native language rather than English because the lyrics are atrocious although I enjoy the thick accent. Normally I don't complain about that sort of thing but the lyrics most of the time barely make sense and rip you from atmosphere that the album is attempting to create. I definitely prefer when singers choose to sing in their native language because it always makes the lyrics better. Maybe if this band continues to write music at any point she will improve in the vocal area, but for this album her abilities barely make up for her short comings. Especially if you compare her to other singers in the genre like Simone Simmons, or Vibeke Stene.
Now onto Mauser... Oh Mauser how far you have fallen to cash out in this band. You must be getting some pretty damn good sex to put your wife on the podium like that. I definitely prefer Mauser's other bands to this one. His guitar work is decent for gothic metal but in comparison to his other efforts this album is shameful. It's pretty standard stuff for pop goth metal insert CHUGA CHUGA here and there and throw in the odd solo when you get bored. I guess it's too much to expect him to be extremely creative with what he's got though I've never heard of death/thrash metal guitarists moving over to this style of music ever.
What is there to say about Heinrich? Well nothing really.... He has a habit of joining very mediocre bands and he is no exception on this album. The bass can be heard, and it's loud for the most part, and kind of fitting in some songs but is mostly forgettable, and completely overridden by the other instruments like the studio synths.
Speaking of the studio synths I do not see a keyboardist in this band's lineup at all. That pretty much solidifies the mounting evidence that this band is an overproduced studio band that relies on to provide the atmosphere that is kind of essential to any gothic metal band.
Now onto the drums... What drums?? Oh the triggers... Might as well be a drum machine. The drummer isn't even worth mentioning I have friends that can drum at that level of skill that don't even have bands.
That sums up Unsun. Although I do enjoy some of the songs I can see myself getting bored of this album in a months time. Anyone checking out this band who wants to see what the fuss is about goth metal or symphonic metal is better off checking out bands like Epica, Novembre, or Tristania.
Let me start off by saying I’m not a big fan of female fronted gothic metal bands. I do enjoy some ie, Flowing Tears and Epica are very talented and interesting bands. However, there is no doubt that certain record labels are shoving talentless babe fronted drivel down our throats. I cannot even begin to tell you how many are out there but they seem like they are trying to follow in the talentless footsteps of sellouts Lacuna Coil. I guess record executives have realized that there is a lot of profit in hot goth babes with fake titties and zero talent. Enter UnSun!!!
UnSun is apparently the product of former Vader guitarist, Mauser and his wife Aya. Having listened to Vader for many years and continually having a huge amount of respect for them, I was optimistic to find out that Mauser was involved in a another band. I purchased this fine piece of crap under the assumption that such a competent musician in the death metal scene would not put his name to such an utter attempt at cashing in. I was wrong and I have no problem admitting that.
I am not going into the detail of doing a song by song review but I will go over the basic songwriting, guitar/bass, drumming and vocals.
Upon first the listen the first thing that jumped out at me was that the songwriting is the same for almost every single track. It follows the normal recipe of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, shit bridge, chorus. It even has the typical slow and melo-dramatic track to check the goth block. Forgive me that I don’t even remember what the name of the song was if that tells you how interesting this is. Enough said about songwriting because there is no real experimentation here.
Okay, the guitars. Mauser, what the fuck man? Remember the riffs of Vader? Anyone? I’m not expecting that kind of riffage in a goth metal band band but I know Mauser can come up with better than this. Rarely do I recall any riffs that contain more than three power chords anywhere in this album. It truly is mundane two to three chord strumming that would be a great starting point for someone wanting to learn basic rock power chords as a beginning guitarist. Do you like solos? Well don’t look here! The solos are very scarce throughout the album and when you do happen on to one, it’s not very impressive.
I cannot go into very much detail as far as the bass is concerned but I’m assuming it’s there, because a bass player (from another competent band Vesania) is listed as being in the band.
The drumming is certainly competent and is mixed well in the album. Quite simply it is not over powering the rest of the instruments and there is no struggle to hear them either. Unfortunately, from my observation the drums merely keep the beat of the songs with very few interesting fills.
Of course, last but not least there is Aya, who is clearly the selling point of the album. Doesn’t she look great on the album cover!!! She can sing but her vocals certainly are not matching the bland music behind her. She has a nice voice, but the vocal style comes across as very euro-pop and sounds completely out of place in a gothic metal band. I guess if you have huge fake knockers than that doesn’t really matter does it?
In conclusion, download the album art or any picture Aya, rub one out because she’s hot, and then call it a day. There is absolutely little to enjoy with the music on this album, and I hope that the next UnSun album (hopefully there won’t be) is at least not quite such an obvious attempt at a cash cow.
Century Media Records is home to many notable bands, some of which I like, some of which I don’t like. This is probably the most eccentric and perhaps accessible label, to the mainstream metal fan at least, I’ve seen in the a long time. Why? Usually, when I take note of record labels, those that I know are home to a good band, I find that they’re usually home to a high number of bands I enjoy (like Profound Lore for example). Century Media stir within me a unusual level of indifference to the vast majority of bands signed to their label, bands like Arch Enemy, Heaven Shall Burn and so on. So when I discovered that the gothic based Polish band UnSun were signed to this particular record label, I felt a wind of change brush over me. If Century Media can be home to a cute band such as this Polish act, then what else are they hiding that I’ve seemingly missed? I must admit that, since first hearing this album, it has slowly declined in my overall estimation. The sheer volume and catchiness of the album, in general, swayed my opinion greatly the first time round but now, well, the catchiness has been largely overtaken by irritation at the image of the band, the vocals and the marketing ploys.
To those familiar with a high number of bands on Century Media, it probably comes as no surprise that UnSun are a gothic band, inhabiting a largely melodic sound with female vocals leading the way although, as expected, there is a generic male vocalist waiting in the wings for his chance in the limelight. From what I can see, reading down the list of bands signed to the aforementioned label, they’re fond of gothic bands, or simply bands who like to supply their audiences with significant amounts of melody, or even symphonic structured music. UnSun, a four piece Polish act, made their debut full-length appearance last year with the arrival of ‘The End Of Life’. As I said, initially this album came across as a good example of gothic metal done right. Now it just comes across as a typical output from your standard gothic metal band who verges on pop/rock to attract scores of newcomers due to their accessibility, shown particularly well in the introduction to songs like ‘Face The Truth’, a song which becomes even more important having heard the direction of the sophomore.
The bass on this song is fairly good but the sickeningly sweet piano and percussion combination give the band a very mixed approach. With ties to bands like Indukti and Vesania, I expected accomplished performances anyway. More so often than not, gothic bands, particularly the European one’s, rely heavily on clichés to tell them how to write their music and UnSun are no different in some respects. I find Aya’s performance nauseating at times, although she isn’t lacking in talent. UnSun like to enforce a few variations on their audience, like the production for instance. It’s clean, but gives the guitars a muggy feel much like fog would do over a gorgeous landscapes, making it hard to detect whether the approach works or not. There is a progressive tinge to the guitar work but the combinational work of the piano and vocals tend to give UnSun a difficult task of bridging the gap between the inaccessibility’s of metal and the accessibilities of pop music. One which I’m uncertain whether they can achieve successfully or not. Although there is a small splice of cliché dotted around this record, here and there, I found myself enjoying this record more than most notable mainstream gothic records, supplied by bands like Lacuna Coil, another Century Media band.
After their last effort, ‘Karmacode’ it seems there is a spot at the top of the leader board open to all bands not just on Century Media, but in the gothic scene altogether since Lacuna Coil are beginning to show numerous flaws in their music and are slipping away. UnSun’s main priority, in my eyes, is to keep their feet on the ground, though with their image and career progression, this doesn’t seem likely. Their egos need to remain firmly rooted to soil, not sky high because, it seems, when gothic bands break into the big-time, that is when their music begins to develop flaws and a huge chunk of their fan base is wiped out. One thing that really irks me with bands of this nature is that the female member is given more attention than the other musicians and usually, this attention has little to do with the music the band offers, but more to do with her appearance. Already one can see that UnSun’s female vocalist, simply named Aya, is controlling the main influences and inspirations of the band.
Perhaps I’m reading far too much into the previous band photo on the Metal Archives page, but female members are usually placed in the foreground of photographic sessions and the female performance is usually more noteworthy in terms of critical opinion. Contradictory to this point, Aya’s performance is actually creditable with much acclaim. At this point, her performance hasn’t quite taken over from the rest of the band, though it seems only a matter of time before she casts a forlorn shadow over them. The guitarist, “Mauser”, is thankfully a very dynamic performer, offering creative structures to his guitar work, along with a number of solos throughout the course of the album. As well as this, there is a very synthetic sound to UnSun’s soundscapes due to the domineering keyboards, so Aya’s performance isn’t the only notable part of the record. Aya’s voice is a bit different from most gothic vocalists, her accent is very much noticeable when she’s singing, at least to me anyway. It adds a sense of authenticity to the songs, and is rather adorable I must say.
The profile picture didn’t exactly contradict the evidence on the record either, as she stands over her fellow musicians, handling the chains that wrap round their necks like a controlling device over their input. Her clean vocals, the symphonic sound and the song writing are what is most clichéd about UnSun. Their style almost perfectly typifies the gothic sound which has immerged in recent years, since the turn of the decade. I say almost perfect because UnSun like to inflict a few changes into the mix. First, the male vocal performance is infrequent. It features towards the tail end of ‘Lost Innocence’ but rarely after that, if at all. To me, this is a positive. More so often than not the male vocalist ruins the appeal of the female vocals, contrasting them with growls that split the influences apart. The guitars provide the only section that isn’t clean, though there is some acoustic work on songs like ‘Memories’ which develops a different sound, a more slow and emotive sound that gothic bands are no stranger to, reflecting over feelings of pain and sorrow, which flows constructively through the acoustics and subtle symphonies that the ever present keyboards provide.
Bass is often ineffective given how dynamic the guitars sound and the effects of the underlying synth work, which is disappointing. I feel with more presence, the bass could have really lit those sadder passages alight, for all to see, feel and envy. The bass is perhaps decreased in presence by the other, notably sad instruments (piano and synths), as well as the production which gives the guitars too much presence. The balance between the instruments isn’t perfect, but for a debut effort, its not bad at all though strange songs like ‘Indifference’ disturb the peace with a confusing electronic bass line coursing through the intro like it would do in any typical drum n bass song. This section of instrumentation stinks of trying to become more accessible to reach a wider ranging audience. Songs like ‘Indifference’ wouldn’t be out of place in your average trendy club. It doesn’t suit the sound or style of the album and is ineffective from the off, despite trying to appear as a catchy, like-minded number. Overall, the album declines in quality the more you hear it. It begins strongly with catchy melodies and a different vocal performance but these qualities are replaced but “what the fuck?” moments, clichés and an accessibility which makes it sound quite shallow.
After I heard some whispers about a new project for Vader’s Mauser, my expectations were high. The new project however is something completely different… Mauser teamed up with Aya, a beautiful lady who probably lost innocence a long time ago (but definitely helps the record sales). Upon the first listen I was blinded by hatred for the change of style that was taken, but I had to face the truth and judge this new project for what it really is, a gothic metal band. I used to be into gothic metal a few years ago and I must say ‘The end of life’ is a pretty decent effort within the genre but doesn’t stand out particularly.
The problem with modern day gothic metal music is that there isn’t a lot of novelty to the genre anymore. Quite a few bands have crossed over to mainstream (Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Theatre of Tragedy, Sirenia, etc.) after a career of darker, more atmospheric music. On the other side, there are some bands that stick to the metal side of music (Tristania, Trail of Tears, After Forever, etc.). Unsun seems to have chosen the former destiny from day one, not leaving the option for the listener to cherish memories of a more glorious past.
The music is carried by Aya’s vocals, which are really well performed and bring me to heaven on several occasions. Production is really good (like for most of the bands in this genre these days). It’s kind of a pity that for most of the time the guitars are buried somewhere on the edge of the songs, under a reasonably thick layer of synths and vocals. There are a few nice solos, but for most of the songs the guitar work lacks energy and inspiration.
For Mauser this probably means he’s coming closer to death -in a musical sense- but on the other hand probably closer to commercial success and mainstream breakthrough as well due to the high pop content of the music.
All in all, after a few listens, the album leaves me with a feeling of indifference. It’s quite enjoyable, but there are a lot of bands out there that make similar music and do it a lot better as well.
It often happens to be willing to try something new, to hear inside a new and violent call you cannot resist.
Who knows how many times have we heard of such stories, also in musical fields and to justify a sudden change of sounds. This time is the turn of Mauser, known for the warlike fury he unleashed in the albums of Polish death/thrashers Vader and who now is reintroduced to our ears by the very different features of UnSun, founded band by the help of Vaaver (drummer of Indukti) and especially the pretty singer Aya.
The characterization of the European guitarist's new musical passion is easy to frame and I don't think the fans of Vader, or at least the most radical edge of them, may ever accept the idea that a rib of their favourite band spawned a female gothic metal group. But don't be prey of prejudices, because UnSun's is a debut that does not deserve to be archived without a single listen. The album owns some qualities that make it so tasty even for the non gothic lovers, and indeed the metal component (see rhythm guitars) is always put in evidence, a natural thing considered Mauser past.
What we may not expect is the skilful use of samples the Polish musician spreads upon the score making them even more complete an catchy, without forgetting "The End Of Life" owns the winning weapon every band of this kind should dream of: some excellent vocal hooks. It's not just merit of Aya, who anyway accomplishes her task perfectly, it's the ability of writing some winning melodies that turns UnSun songs into little melodic pearls that bands like Lacuna Coil or Evanescence may only envy.
That's why "The End Of Life" is very different from its title, representing the beginning of a new artistic life for Mauser and his nice performer.