Melodic Death Metal is a tough genre to listen to sometimes because for every great band, like MERCENARY, there are a number of bad ones whose names I won’t mention. Probably because I’m in too good of a mood, but oh well. So I approached this new album by THE UNGUIDED with cautious optimism despite the sweet, sweet cover art. Fragile Immortality is out now in the US via Napalm Records and some of it is pretty good, a little of it is great, and some of it is pretty forgettable. I told you this stuff was tricky, didn’t I?
The first two songs on the album “Inception” and “Defector DCXVI” are as different as night and day, not in terms of tempo or overall sound; the former is not great, but the latter really is. The clean vocals offset the harsh ones, especially on the chorus, and it’s done well. “Granted” falls into the “meh” category, plus the growls don’t really fit the music on this one. Conversely “Eye of the Thyla” is one of the album’s best tracks, with an AMARANTHE-style keyboard intro and more of a deliberate slowed down rhythm. The guitars, bass, and drums are all stuck together and that thickness helps it stay nice and heavy throughout.
“Unguided Entity” is another strong cut, made even better by the Sjunnesson Brothers, Richard and Roger, on vocals and guitars/keys respectively, working together to craft a nice blend of heavy and melodic. If all the songs were like this one the whole thing would be a winner. Alas, this is not the case, and “Carnal Genesis” is just plodding and not very good. I wasn’t a fan of “Enforce” either for the simple reason that it sounds dated. But the album gets a much-needed shot in the arm in the form of “Blodbad” which is all harsh vocalist Richard Sjunnesson on the verses and Roland Johansson’s sweeping cleans on the chorus. Plus, this is one of the few solos that got and held my attention.
The band decides to go the catchier route with “Only Human”. File this one under “meh” as well. The good news is the album closes with a pair of tunes that are better than most in “Singularity” and “Oblivion”. The first one is has good pacing and isn’t overbearing with the growls. The closer itself is another example of what the rest of the album should have been like. Fast, heavy, and melodic without overdoing it. Of course, the production on the entire record is slick and polished, perhaps a bit too much for my tastes, but the overall aesthetic isn’t terrible. If you’re a fan of this genre then you’ll know exactly what to expect from THE UNGUIDED, so have at it. And in the absence of anything new from SONIC SYNDICATE, I guess Fragile Immortality will have to do.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Defector DCXVI”, “Oblivion”, “Eye of the Thyla” , “Unguided Entity”