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The Unguided - "Fragile Immortality" (CD)

The Unguided - "Fragile Immortality" CD cover image

"Fragile Immortality" track listing:

1. Inception
2. Defector DCXVI
3. Granted
4. Eye of the Thylacine
5. Unguided Entity
6. Carnal Genesis
7. Enforce
8. Blodbad
9. Only Human
10. Singularity
11. Oblivion

Reviewed by on April 23, 2014

"'Fragile Immortality' thrives on vocal harmonies that helped make metalcore a modern pop-culture phenomenon. Roland Johansson's voice rings through with an indie rock sort of whine."

Richard Sjunnesson didn't like the musical direction of Sonic Syndicate, so he left the band and he and Roland Johansson formed The Unguided. Bassist Henric Carlsson and drummer Richard Schill join the sonic trio for the band's sophomore full-length, "Fragile Immortality."

Fans of the group will rejoice in the band's return to form ala groove, melody, and synthesized rhythms. Apparently, the metalcore and alternative rock sounds that emanated from Sonic Syndicate camp was enough to send Sjunnesson packing, but "Fragile Immortality" thrives on vocal harmonies that helped make metalcore a modern pop-culture phenomenon. Roland Johansson's voice rings through with an indie rock sort of whine. When these big chorus lines come in, the band puts its music on the back burner in lieu of the vocals. All the catchiest parts occur during verses and instrumental breaks.

Album initiator "Inception" reveals a formula the band sticks to throughout the album. The opening synth, drums, and guitar show the band building towards a chugging guitar lick seemingly attached to the kick drum with harsh vocals shouted over top. The Unguided really finds its groove here, but then the clean vocals kick in and all heaviness is watered down. The clean vocals aren't the only point of negation during chorus parts, as the music moves to the background in the most boring way. All the band's catchiest rhythms occur during heavier parts. Another issue with "Fragile Immortality" is the keys. Tracks such as "Granted" help the band realize the Sci-Fi aspects of the lyrics, but they also give the album the swagger of a discotheque.

Criticism aside, there are a few songs and segments that are totally worth checking out. "Defector DCXVI" includes infectious guitar galloping. One of the heaviest moments on the album comes via the chugging grove during "Singularity." The harsh voiced choirs fit the album well. Even the sung chorus lines work during closer "Oblivion." Starting with the line "Some Days Are Best Forgotten," the choral lines are most memorable and more powerful than just about anywhere else on the recording.

The Unguided knows how to produce killer grooves on "Fragile Immortality," its just that the band forsakes the heaviness of steel for soft, woolen tones. Not that a light-heavy dynamic can't be done - Dark Tranquility and Nevermore found harmony in duality - but "Fragile Immortality" is by no means a replica of those bands. While the keys and vocals do not comprise the sum of a whole, these facets result in a sub-par score.

Highs: The band is best during chugging grooves and harsh-vocal segments.

Lows: Clean vocals water down the band's heaviness, while certain synth passages sound discotheque in nature.

Bottom line: Nothing special, there are many playing this style better.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)