Some new CDs you just want to be great for various reasons, be it a band you already adore, a supergroup that promises so much or merely a highly touted new release that might or might not live up to its hype. Here, however, is a different beast. The Unguided is a new project featuring former and present Sonic Syndicate members - namely vocalist Richard Sjunnesson who assumes singing duties, his brother Roger on guitar, still axeman with SS of course, and another ex-SS frontman, Roland Johansson, providing guitars and vocals. With press blurb stating their aim with The Unguided was to return to their melodic death metal roots and with such a lineup, including guest vocals on 'Pathfinder' from PAIN/Hypocrisy mainman and famed metal producer Peter Tägtgren, this in itself might engender high hopes for something quite special. But what has actually whet my appetite before even spinning this two track disc, what is effectively a teaser for a forthcoming album, is one of the best pieces of CD packaging I've ever encountered, one that makes you simply go "wow" upon holding it in your hands and opening the digipack for the very first time. The artwork by Kuang Hong is spectacular enough but it's the 3-dimensional pop-up element that is quite genius with the actual CD housed in the pop-up section. Like I said, "wow", and even if the music transpires to be crap I would recommend buying this limited edition just for the original packaging alone. Fortunately, crap the music is not. However, original it is also not, although the blend of melodic death and metalcore elements work well in the two tracks that comprise 'Nightmareland' with layered instrumentation of keys and lead guitar parts adding depth, emotion and melody to the palm-muted riffing that drives the music. The polyvocal approach with metalcore screams, death growls, clean singing, and the occasional whispered passage also helps to inject a little variance in what's otherwise a musically generic template. Recorded in Tägtgren's studio, The Abyss, with production by both the band and Jonas Kjellgren, and mixed/mastered by Kjellgren, the resultant sound is massive and lends the songs a lot of punch. Those who have become disheartened by the direction Sonic Syndicate have taken with their music over the years will undoubtedly be rather excited by 'Nightmareland' and a forthcoming album but it's also well worth checking out for casual fans of melodic death/metalcore as, albeit generic, it's so well executed.
Review by Mark Holmes
18th July 2011
1) Green Eyed Demon
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Those who have become disheartened by the direction Sonic Syndicate have taken with their music over the years will undoubtedly be rather excited by 'Nightmareland'..."