The Unguided – Fragile Immortality
Release Date: February 11th, 2014
The Unguided storm 2014 with their second full-length album, Fragile Immortality, also marking as their debut album through Napalm Records. Now, if you’ve never heard of these guys (like myself a while back), The Unguided play a style of metal fusing modern melodic death, metalcore, and a heavy use of electronica strewn throughout. If you were to compare them to another band, Sonic Syndicate would most likely be the closest match. Why? Well, honestly, three members of Sonic Syndicate broke away from the project and decided to form a band that melded the similar ideas of the members. Brothers Richard Sjunneson (harsh vocals) and Roger Sjunneson (rhythm guitars and keyboards) had separated from Sonic Syndicate at separate times, but ultimately joined up with Roland Johansson (clean vocals, lead guitar) to begin the process of forming The Unguided. Henric Liljesand (bass, Cipher System) joined some time later along with Richard Schill (drums), who had replaced John Bengtsson (Sonic Syndicate) who helped out for a short time.
Judging from the members and their origins, you can probably guess that the band and album is heavily influenced by the ideas of other bands, especially Sonic Syndicate. I decided to go back into the past of Sonic’s discography, as I used to listen to them a bit back then, and get acquainted with their sound to see how much it would compare to The Unguided. The earlier works were heavy and laden with copious amounts of melody and power. As the years progressed, there seemed to be a shift in composition and ideas all around. The band became dull, pretentious, and pretty much forgettable. I can see why a lot of the key members left and decided to go about creating something they enjoyed doing.
Fragile Immortality hits a lot of positives with me, more so than any present negatives by far. Being the combination of modern melodic death metal and metalcore, I figured I would be bored to tears as these sub-genres are considered “introductions into metal”. I can agree, to an extent, that these genres can be plain and simple in the grand scheme of things, but like every other sub-genre, there are gems and diamonds that make their way to the surface if you decide to dig deep enough. The Unguided prove this with this latest effort.
“Inception” starts the album off with energetic keyboards and simple metalcore riffs. Enter Richard Sjunneson, who immediately brings demonic harsh vocals seeking to decimate anything in their path. His vocal style comes off differently than a lot that I’ve heard before, adding in a disgusting and dirty texture that some may consider sloppy. The chorus comes in with the ever serene clean vocals of Roland Johansson. You can’t help but feel invigorated every time he enters into the fray. The strong and proud presence clashes well with the harsh vocals, creating that angel/demon combo that has become quite popular in previous years in the realm of metalcore. The keyboards and guitars in this track stand out just as much as the vocals, providing a solid melodic backbone and groove. This is definitely one of my favorites.
One pet peeve I have when listening to melodic death metal is that every song on the record needs to have a distinguishing melody with every track. Fragile Immortality does just that in a powerful manner, fusing these catchy melodies with explosive choruses. “Defector DCXVI” is a great example of this. Keyboards deeply etch themselves into the background while the drums provide a galloping rhythm. These two aspects give the tune a different feel from the previous, giving the listener a chance to immerse themselves more into the album without getting bored.
“Eye of Thylacine” is another favorite, defining a slow to somewhat mid-pace composition that adds darker emotions and textures. It is another example of an explosive chorus. Although I usually don’t pay attention to the lyrics of most albums (unless they’re concept/story albums) I can’t help but pick out a few lines that come up every so often. The Unguided touch the subject of the human mind and nature correlating with that of the extinction of life, mostly that of animal species. The Thylacine was one such animal. Surprises like these are always fun and intriguing to find.
At first, this record may come off as another band that seeks to ride the waves of simplified modern melodic death metal when in reality these guys are creating true music they love that contains diversity, intellectual lyrics, and the right amount of melodic power to draw in listeners even further. Fragile Immortality is easy to get into but has enough behind it to contain some interesting gems. I’ll definitely keep The Unguided in the radar in the future and especially keeping this melodic opus in rotation.