The title says it all! Opinions expressed here are those of the authors. Personal tastes may vary, and we are cool with that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

CD Review: Unsun's "Clinic for Dolls"

As I mentioned before, I have a soft spot for UnSun even though I have no idea why. I purchased their debut CD, End of Life, and liked it at the time, but I think what happened is that I just grew out of it. Compared to the bands I found after, this album seems quite mediocre now for the Gothic genre. But I wasn't exactly put off forever; I was curious to see what their follow-up sounded like and if there had been any growth since EoL's release in 2008. When the band released their first single, "Home", from the new album, Clinic For Dolls, I was optimisitic. It's a good song and it's actually a good video, too.

So, I have Clinic for Dolls, and I have listened to it many times. My impressions are these: it's a much stronger album than EoL. It's faster, heavier, and the writing is more complex. In fact, the composition end of it is really good and a huge improvement from their debut. The guitar work is better, as are the keyboards. This is a far less "poppy" (how I hate that term, but I can't find a better one right now) CD, and it's evident right from the beginning that a lot of time and thought has gone into writing something way more meaty music.

The intro to the first song, "The Lost Way" sets the tone and impressed me right off the bat. Heavy, melodic, and fast - great headbanging stuff for sure, and this is one of the strongest tracks on the album. "Home", as I mentioned, is also a strong song, and other notables are "Time", and "Mockers." The ballad "The Last Tears" is quite lovely and emotional, and is singer Aya's best peformance on this CD.

Lyrically, this is also a much stronger album. These songs are full of dark, desolate, and very lonely themes and images. They talk about abuse, marginalization, institutionalization, futility, secrets, death, and all kinds of stuff like that. Here is a good example, from "Time":

When rain washes blood off the ground
down the shadowy path I’ll come by
When you utter your last sin aloud
my star will shine in the sky
When time decides to kill
when time closes our eyes
our sins will vanish in tears
the ground will hush our cries

So, musically & lyrically, I like this. It's not up there with Nightwish, Epica, and bands like that I am into, but it's not bad, and like I said, it's a big improvement over EoL.

However, there is a rather disappointing, glaring weakness, and that is the vocal performance of Aya. The girl can sing; I don't think she has a bad voice. I just don't think she has a voice strong enough or powerful enough for this music. Her singing is heavily accented, but I'm not overly concerned about that. "Weak" is the only word I can find to describe how she sounds with this band. The only exception I found on this album where I really enjoyed her voice was the aforementioned "The Last Tears." She is excellent here: she brings power and some very poignant emotion to this piece and it's gorgeous. But overall...It's just not great.
She does sound decent live, I must say. UnSun seems to be getting some gigs at bigger venues lately, including appearances at Metal Female Voices Fest in 2009 and this past October, and I found this video of the band, and Aya sounds great.
This is still a highly listenable album and I have to say it shows a lot of promise for the future. I just think the vocals
Horns up, though. \m/ My soft spot is still in tact!

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