The Unguided is a Melodic Death Metal (MDM) band from Sweden started by Richard Sjunnsesson after his departure from another popular Swedish band, Sonic Syndicate. In addition to Richard Sjunnesson, other members include Roland Johansson, Roger Sjunnesson, Henric Liljesand, and Richard Schill.
In keeping with other great European MDM bands, The Unguided pairs the melodic clean vocals of Johansson and the guttural scream vocals of Sjunnesson to create a symmetry of beauty and mourning throughout their music.
I have been a long time fan of the music of Sweden, Finland, Norway and other cultures of the north. There is no one quite like these men who can paint such a melancholy picture of beautiful despair. One moment angry and screeching and the next moment passionate and tender. I love to listen to the ying and yang of their sound as each song takes us on a journey through life and love.
The Unguided was recently signed with Napalm Records. Their latest album, Fragile Immortality, has been released via their new label.
This album also gives us a nice selection of bonus tracks. There are two bonus tracks from The Unguided including one featuring guest vocalist, German singer Hansi Kursch. They also include three remix songs with Zardonic from Venezuela. Zardonic’s real name is Federico Agreda and he is a popular DJ, composer, musician who works with many artists. This is a unique treat for fans of both The Unguided and Zardonic to get to hear them work together!
2. Defector DCXVI
4. Eye Of The Thylacine
5. Unguided Entity
6. Carnal Genesis
9. Only Human
12. Deathwalker (Bonus Track)
13. Unguided Entity (Zardonic Remix Bonus Track)
14. Deathwalker (Zardonic Remix Bonus Track)
15. When All The Seraphim Cry (Bonus Track)
This is a solid MDM album, interspersed with electronica, giving many of the tracks a more cutting edge, commercial feel. Think Children of Bodom meets Linkin Park. This album also shows The Unguided moving closer toward breaking out on the mainstream stage.
The opening track, Inception is upbeat with definite commercial appeal. The chorus, sung mainly by Johansson, has a real sing-along hook to it. The same goes for the second track, The Defector DCXVI. Also on the commercial side, it is one of the better tracks on the album. The gallop drum beat, keyboards, and cool guitar riff work together to make a great hook. Granted, with the keyboard intro, and heavy presence of keys throughout the song, is no different.
For the mainstream feel of the first three songs, the album is not lacking the expected brooding material. Eye of Thylacine uses sustained power chords, keyboard arpeggios, and Johansson telling a story. He also shows he is capable of high-end falsetto singing.
The guitar work, both rhythm and solos, is solid throughout the album. The material is built on a foundation of catchy riffs, electronica keyboards, and aggressive drum parts. While that could describe many MDM bands, there are some real stand-out performances on this album. Defector has a several ‘traditional power metal’ style guitar solo parts, not prevalent in the genre. The double-bass runs, snare, and cymbal work, along with many timing breaks make for an interesting rhythm structure.
There are a few tracks with the expected fast and hard-driving beat, such as Unguided Entity, Carnal Genesis, and Singularity. However, Bloodbad is the ass-kicker on the album. Hard, fast, double-bass and snare crazy, and chugging guitars give it a speed metal feel with Sjunnesson’s harsh vocals marching on through the verses.
One of the surprises of the album was Only Human. The main melody is commercial, almost pop. Johansson sings beautifully with mainly just 4/4 drums and bass to accompany him. The chorus, while heavier, also has a mainstream feel to it. Even the guitar solo has a pop metal feel to it. This is not a bad thing; it shows the band is versatile and not afraid to be try new things musically.
Many of the lyrics are dark and introspective (big surprise). Granted points out that “if God doesn’t exist, no sin matters, nothing counts towards our karmic odyssey” and therefore “every second of it is all we have” and to “make the most of it.” Eye of Thylacine refers to the Thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, last observed in 1933 and believed extinct. The lyrics question our impact on the planet. This works well with the melodic and melancholy rhythms.
War is a common element lyrically; Inception, Unguided Entity, Bloodbad, and Singularity describe scenes of battle and bloodshed. The lyrics of Carnal Genesis could describe many things, but it loosely refers to the plot of the movie, the Matrix. Check them out and see what you think.
The album is also not lacking the request gloom and angst of many the MDM genre. Enforce describes the daily enduring pain and heartache of a man wanting to “slit my way to hell.” Only Humandescribes how “I’ll keep the good memories closely guarded, but the anxiety, the darkness will walk with me forever.”
The production quality of this album was good. The vocals clear and bright. The drums are crisp, though the cymbals lack some distinction. While the bass tone was bottom heavy, it was presented forward in the mix making it easy to distinguish.
Overall, I found this album to be beautifully constructed. The material takes the listener on a musical journey across different styles, emotions, and subject matter. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of melodic death metal music and to anyone who is looking for a few special additions to their album collection. Go buy the album to check out the bonus material; there are several amazing additions that make this album a winner!
Interested in more? The band also released a video for Inception. You can check it out on the Napalm Records YouTube channel.