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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.