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Unmoored is a technical melodic death metal band that really fell through the cracks. I've known few who've even heard of this band, and I feel the only ones who know it now only do because of their interest in Christian Älvestam, generated by their love of his work in Scar Symmetry. The question at hand: is the lack of recognition just?
I can tell you this album has truly breathtaking moments. "Final State Part III (Posthumous Writings)," a fully sung ballad, is one of the most harmoniously splendid songs under Christian's prolific name. These lyrics, the only ones written by him on this album if I'm not mistaken, are emotional and well written. I cannot help but draw similarities to the even more resplendent "Lethean Tears" off the far more recently released For Aeons Past.
And though it can't reach the rungs "Final State Part III (Posthumous Writings)" does, "Cinder's Veil" is a great song as well - brutal, yet melodious, and featuring such an excellent guitar solo that I am brought back to this song over and over again just to hear it. Likewise, opener "Unspeakable Grief" and "Phase of Revulsion" are memorable, brutal songs with some super excellent, technical riffing (this album definitely falls into techdeath territory at times). Note the section that begins at 4:04 on "Phase of Revulsion," with its chilling guitar melodies leading into a spellbinding clean vocal passage by our rightfully esteemed Christian Älvestam.
... Unfortunately, these are the only highlights of the album. Every other song is a disappointment by comparison. The elements are there: brutal, borderline technical riffs, hammering drums that are well done and incorporate blast beats at the perfect time, and the excellent growl we've all come to love. The problem is that the music itself is generally boring, and main highlights out of any of them is when Christian's divine clean singing makes small appearances. Admittedly, though, other highlights do exist. Note the excellent leads making their appearance and recurring starting ~3:02 of "Commit to the Fire," for example.
As much as I want to give this album a higher rating, I fear that 3 very good to great songs and 1 legendary song out of an 8 song album is not my idea of a well constructed album at all. It should've been an EP.
Yet another band to slip through the cracks during the explosion of melodic Swedish death metal in the late 20th/early 21st centuries is Unmoored. Despite a level of ability rivaling the 'big 3' of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and Soilwork, they have never risen out of the 2nd or perhaps 3rd tier of bands. It really is a shame, especially with their third offering Indefinite Soul-Extension, because this is a band who can mix it up with the best of them.
"Unspeakable Grief" christens the album with blazing guitars ala At the Gates, accented with some synths and clean chorus parts similar to those used by Soilwork's 'Speed' Strid during this period. The song also delivers a few meaty grooving hook breakdowns. "Commit to the Fire" opens with a punctual, slower thrashing riff sure to transform any idly waiting mob into a roiling mosh pit, before unleashing some pure old school Swedish death. "Leave-Taking" arpeggiates into some progressive and twisting death, even busting into some atmospheric black metal segments and clean acoustic chorus. That's the strength of Unmoored: their ability to incorporate a myriad of sub-styles into cohesion. "Phase of Revulsion" features some big, moody melodies over charging drums and a choppy thrash verse not unlike Testament. "Morndraper" is short, fast, and furious death metal. "Cinders Veil" is another track balancing a brutal thrust with a catchy, clean vocal chorus and some slower grooves. "Spit Forth from Failure" is possibly the best song on the album, total death metal assault with huge sound. The album ends with the acoustic power ballad "Final State Part III: Posthumous Writings".
As mentioned, the sound here is just loud and clear...HUGE. The guitar tones crush when required, but the acoustics are graceful and the synths are mixed just right so that they always remain where they belong: in the atmosphere. Christian Ävestam's vocals are just right, I particular favor his death growl but his clean vocals do not insult. The lyrics aren't bad either. Indefinite Soul-Extension is a little less groove-laden than its predecessors Cimmerian or Kingdoms of Greed, but at the same time it's more memorable and has a greater depth. Definitely not an album to overlook. It's been years since we've heard from this band, but they are supposedly still active, maybe we'll get a new album soon.
This review was originally written for http://www.metalneverlies.webs.com
This has got to be the best melodic death metal CD I have ever heard. Christian – who later moved on to bands Scar Symmetry, and currently Miseration – is amazing in every band he joins. This man has the perfect balance of a killer death growl and beautiful singing, and he doesn't hesitate to display that on Infinite Soul-Extension (2003).
To start with, this isn't normal Melodic Death Metal: This is melodeath with with Brutality and Awesomeness cranked up as high as melodic death metal can go. From the first seconds, you will notice that the drums are wicked fast, the riffs plow through your ears and Christian's guttural vocals just tear you up. Unmoored uses a standard harsh verse → melodic chorus approach, and it's a relief because the constant power and brutality will leave your ears wishing for melodic chorus to get there sooner.
This album is very powerful, and it is very brutal as I've already mentioned. A few of the stand out tracks include Unspeakable Grief – the six minute epic first track, Leave-Taking – a killer track with a lot of progressive parts and a groovy keyboard solo, Phase of Revulsion – my personal favorite song where I think they reach the pinnacle of Melodic and Death Metal co-existence, and Cinders Veil – which is just plain awesome if not just for the shred alone. That doesn't mean that this album has any filler tracks, because it doesn't. Every song on this CD has something unique about it. If I had to pick a favorite, it'd probably have to be Phase of Revulsion just because it's brutal, but still catchy and memorable.
The album ender – “Final State Part III” is a sudden change of pace as the the band puts on a softer tone. Some people don't think songs like this belong on a Death Metal CD, but to me, it couldn't be more welcome. It's as if the first seven songs kick the shit out of you, and then “Final State...” is there to give you a band-aid. This song is so mellow, yet they still manage to incorporate some stellar guitar playing from both electric and acoustic and a beautiful solo to end the album on a happy note.
It's a shame that Unmoored was never much of a popular band, because they left this gem for us to enjoy. Even if you're not a fan of Melodic death metal, I'd recommend Infinite Soul-Extension (2003), as it is something that any metalhead can really get into. In other words: If you like varied, heavy riffage or awesome and well-placed guitar solos, brutal drumwork or anything related to Metal, this album will leave you wanting to listen to it again and again.
As always, I attempt to write my reviews based on the mindset of the genre I am approaching, if possible. It isn't always easy for someone who has English as a second language (English doesn't use double negatives as the correct grammar? wow ;O), but I'm beyond that now. So, Unmoored. Originally a groove metal band from Swedish that made a complete turnaround in terms of music which culminates in this release, Indefinite Soul Extension.
From the very beginning of Unmoored's reign however it has been clear to me that even their groove productions are well produced. There's no Pantera-inspired whole-hearted attempt to rim the edges of some abstract failure known as 'groove', or hardcore loving screams and shouts here. From my knowledge of their discography back to Cimmerian, their lyrics, subject matter and general approach to construction of songs put them as something far beyond the average groove band. Over time, they refined this approach on Kingdoms of Greed, bringing that wholeheartedly appreciated progression right onto Indefinite Soul Extension. There's the links to their original roots however and it serves to strengthen the music, as Unmoored's use of groove is exactly what groove should be all about. Now that they're moving into territory which certainly takes the influences from melodic death and Swedish death metal on the chin however, the door is flown wide open. Unmoored could have faltered and created a utterly worthless pastiche of Dark Tranquility/Opeth/Edge of Sanity/Scar Symmetry/whatever worship which ultimately comes below the par, unless you happen to count sucking the proverbial.
Thankfully, none of the above occurs.
To begin, I can't really say anything other than fucking wow. I've got a fairly decent vocabulary, but for the life of me I can't think of many other words that succinctly describe what this album contains. Strong acoustic passages, appropriate and effective use of strong clean and 'harsh' vocals, excellent instrumental work and above all else, attention to detail which results in effective fucking songwriting. This little group of musicians succeed admirably in the most important level and this is exactly why the album is damned strong. From the beginning, they throw the blunt implements at the listener, with the opener managing the strong, speedy riffage and drumwork that is a trademark of the album. It's meaty, crushing, aggressive, thrashy and most importantly, has plenty of substance, which serves as a fundamentally promising beginning. At the same time however, there's the reminder this is no ordinary death metal album with the terribly hackneyed (and yet, oddly effective) throwback to 1960's special effects in Sci-Fi shows noise that accompanies moments in the song. 'Leave-Taking' gives a brilliant example of not only solo placement and effect and 'sound' change from 2.55 to 3.10, but also excel. The use of a violin and acoustic guitar also extends the power of the song immeasurably, without falling into the overtly dramatic garbage offered up by far too many bands which make use of strings. 'Phase of Revolution manages' a perfectly timed slowdown and departure from the heavier, groovier riffing that trademarks the song right in the middle of the track itself, while 'Cinder's Veil' gives a class example of how one should intend to finish a song with a solo. There's all the instruments for this to go horribly, inescapably wrong with the fadeout, yet they still manage a huge degree of success which makes the song a standout in an album of standouts for me. There's the use of quotes that lie outside the bands own lyrical creation, as well as the length of the solo lending itself to a display of instrumental wankery that surpasses even the attentions of 4channers to the latest animu hentai doujinshi and yet it fucking slays.
A lot of the albums I enjoy I try to acknowledge their superiority from a purely intellectual standpoint (Kekal's stunning works being key), but I can't manage any other way to address this sort of songwriting. There's no doubt the album is progressive death metal, yet the album seems punishingly straightforward in technique and devastatingly effective in execution. There's no attempt for Dream Theater level instrumental passages and still, the songs display a level of musical depth that puts it well above the norm. Christian Alvestam and Thomas Johannson put together an excellent barrage of well constructed riffs and basslines (assuming those are basslines I hear), which is one of the strongest elements of the album. They sound great, they're more than varied enough to prevent any becoming anything near repetitive or less than powerful. Henrik's drum performance provides exactly as expected from the album, mixing his beats in sync with the constant tempo changes, variations in lyrics, tone and sound. The lyrics manage something well beyond the stereotypical groove/death metal fare, Final state offering up 'in the depths of duration/far away from a close/the extension of yet another/ending shows', as an example. These lyrics function well with the album's sound, emphasizing both the melody and the brutality in sections of the work. Despite this apparently being the first appearance in which Henrik and Thomas make their presence felt, there is an overwhelming feeling that they function perfectly as a unit, churning out each track with a balanced musical approach which thunders home. There is an overwhelming impression that they are all playing as part of a mature, integrated unit, which only makes the songs and the album stronger.
In summary, this is a remarkable effort. It correctly fuses melody with the classical death metal approach, incorporating plenty of variation of sound and tune. Most importantly however, it never falls into the trap that often awaits progressive artists, avoiding pointless displays of instrumental self-cest. As if to showcase this dexterity, it even flirts with a semi-acoustic ballad-esque performance at the end, driving home how Unmoored are secure enough in their abilities to attempt a progressive approach in the first place. Ultimately, that quality is what makes this album such a standout. It's a solid evolution on their previous sound that is stunningly executed, with just enough revolutionary elements to ensure it classifies as an S class album. A mature band of experienced musicians producing exceptionally well crafted music they're comfortable with, that provides technicality and melody, in equal success.
Technical, brooding death metal that is as intricate and elaborate as any other band in the genre, Unmoored manage to pull off a variety of sounds on their third release, ‘Indefinite Soul-Extension’. ‘Unspeakable Grief’ gets the madness going with a track that is reminiscent of Nocturnus, both due to its heaviness and the manner in which the keyboards of Johan Astrand are utilized. But Unmoored are like a good horror flick, you can’t predict what the band is going to do next. Tomas Johansson plays some simply amazing lead guitars, his quick fingered arpeggios blazing across his guitar’s fret board at warp speed, then, fluctuating between disjointed, off tempo rhythms. There are some strong melodic elements which grace the song ‘Leave-Taking’, and the group’s ambitious compositional structure here moves between schizophrenic ranges of powerful emotions. Vocalist/guitarist Christian Alvestam combines many different types of voices into a single piece, which keeps things interesting. As if the band’s spasmodic fluctuations musically were not enough to hold your attention.
‘Morndraper’ starts off like a car crash that never ends, and for a death metal band, that’s a good thing. Unmoored really gets blasting on this piece as Alvestam truly sounds like a man possessed, attacking the microphone with sheer vehemence. Extraordinary drummer Henrick Shonstrom holds it all together with dead-on four limbed front that powers the group’s performance. ‘Cinders Veil’ is perhaps the highlight of the album, further evidence of Unmoored’s proficient songwriting skills exists in this songs delay filled chorus that is as close to a hook as you will find in Death Metal without watering it down too much. The solo here consists of more virtuoso shredding by the hands of Johannsson.
‘Spit Forth From Failure’ is a driven song with a sense of urgency, lapsing from rapid right hand movements to palm muted crunching. The lead break introduces the thick chorus section well, with Alvestam sounding especially evil on this particular track.
An extremely crucial effort from these talented Swedes, ‘Indefinite Soul-Extension’ is death metal the way it was meant to be played, ruthless, intelligent and unrelenting. Code666 really has a find here, and if any of the bands on their roster can bring the label greater international exposure, it would be Unmoored. Quite recommended!
About 3 years ago, I had never heard of this band, and I was still digging through the countless great extreme bands out. I decided to buy this album on an impulse buy when it was released in '03, and it was my first exposure to Unmoored. Damn I am glad I did, this album is great.
Indefinite Soul-Extension combines elements of death metal, melodic death, Gothenburg, and progressive metal. The riffing at times is very crunchy and heavy like many death acts, but then it's more atmospheric, prog-like, and then again it's a bit on the Gothenburg side, with the Maiden-esque harmony riffs. The drumming is superb, Henrik Schönström does a helluva job keeping this whole album sounding progressive and epic, yet brutal and heavy. Christian Älvestam's vocals are great, mixing some pretty melodic harsh vocals (ala Gothenburg but with a bit more balls), and some great sounding clean vocals that give any renowned metal singer a run for their money. The album's first track, Unspeakable Grief, is probably their best song on the album, combining all of the above elements into 5 minutes of great music. Overall the album keeps a high standard, with some excellent songs like Commit to the Fire and Spit Forth From Failure (with some excellent solos as well). These Swedes sure know their stuff, and I expect to hear more great music from these folks in the future.