Lust And Loathing
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Sweden’s The Unguided, founded by former members of Sonic Syndicate, incorporate metalcore ferocity with melodic death metal’s melody. The juxtaposition of these two sounds is abundantly apparent in Lust and Loathing the band’s 3rd studio album. The guttural rasp of Richard Sjunnesson is counterbalanced by the sonorous croon of Roland Johansson, backed by music that is equally brutal and beatific. There’s a definite Scandinavian frigidness to the clinically executed guitars and percussion, as well as Sjunnesson’s harsh tone, all of those things, however, are tempered by abundant and sublime keyboard work and Johansson’s previously mentioned warm tones. There is most definitely a ‘beauty and the beast’ duality going on here.
The album kicks off with the high energy, synth-heavy, “Enraged” which is at times blisteringly abrasive and supremely melodic, with massive hooks, both guitar and keyboard based. Track #2, “The Worst Day” begins with a light keyboard intro, reminiscent of Amaranthe, and then proceeds to kick you in the face with near black metal levels of ferocity, only to come back around to melodicore grooves. “Heartseeker” slows down the tempo a bit and ups the emotion with what is nearly a ballad, albeit one with the occasional death metal shriek. Once again, Amaranthe is brought to mind (sans female vocals), with a good amount of Bullet For My Valentine thrown in there.
Things continue throughout the rest of the album following the same recipe of intensity and harmony; if you like your metal heavy, but aren’t afraid of a little melody (ok, a LOT of it) then Lust and Loathing will be sure to please. It’s definitely on the more accessible and commercial end of metal’s range, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Big hooks, big melody, sing along (scream along?) choruses and superb musicianship combine to form a gleaming gem of metal. Er… metal can have crystalline structure right? Sorry… I’m getting off track. That is a rather apt metaphor for describing this band’s sound, however: the weight and toughness of metal with the delicacy and beauty of a crystal. It’s musical alchemy!
The whole affair has a decidedly modern sound to it, incorporating a dash of Scandinavian metal’s past, as well as more recent trends in the field. At this point one would think that yet another melodi-core release, in an environment currently saturated with them, would feel redundant and tired. Somehow The Unguided manage to keep it fresh and exciting. Probably because they’re just so damn good at this sort of thing, considering as Sonic Syndicate they helped create the genre to begin with.
Completely unrelated to the sound, but still totally badass is the album cover, which screams “power metal”. A bit of false advertisement, that, but still one of the best damn album covers I’ve seen in quite some time.
Reviewed by: Farron 1340