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Unholy - "New Life Behind Closed Eyes" (CD)

Unholy - "New Life Behind Closed Eyes" CD cover image

"New Life Behind Closed Eyes" track listing:

1. Seeker Immortal (3:38)
2. Children of Eternal Sleep (2:27)
3. These Wounds Never Heal (3:41)
4. Into The Flesh of Another (3:21)
5. The Blinding Light (3:47)
6. Look To The Blood (4:20)
7. No Faith (2:01)
8. The Followers (3:36)
9. Behind The Veil of Darkness (4:03)
10. New Life Behind Closed Eyes (5:19)

Reviewed by on December 1, 2009

"Unholy is the nexus of every modern melodic hardcore band there is. Nothing stands out. "

Unholy, the melodic hardcore band from Syracuse, NY, is not to be confused with the Finnish doom-death metal band of the same name. This one was created as a northeast U.S. metalcore supergroup of sorts, with members coming from Godbelow, Another Victim, and Path of Resistance, and has pounded out another album from the aforementioned exploding melodic hardcore scene. Like everyone else, they proudly state they have influences like Carcass, Entombed, Slayer, and Testament, but all we really hear is some Pantera. And it is just fine, like a mellow cup of tea and a biscuit on a sunny afternoon.

The album starts off with a kick, as the picked guitar notes for the intro to “Seeker Immortal” are pretty fierce, and the song continues well, holding up the intensity throughout. But aside from the intro, nothing steps up and grabs focus. Same for the next track “Children of Eternal Sleep.” And the next, and the next, and so on. Granted, new vocalist Billy Price has a pretty harsh hardcore yelp, gravelly and tough, with some variation between verse and chorus. Guitarists Jonathan Dennison and Steve Caiello shred their fingers raw, bringing in a good dose of thrash, particularly to the layered solos and leads. Drummer Andy Miller is a speed demon, and the production is clean but not polished, sounding raw and full. But everyone has all that.

And therein lies the rub. Unholy is the nexus of every modern melodic hardcore band there is. Nothing stands out. The songs are mid-tempo groove romps ripped from Pantera and Killswitch Engage, and they rock hard. But it is totally bland, done before, by-the-numbers metal. Kudos for leaving the good-cop vocals out and for the fantastic guitar solos, but that’s about all that gets a thumb up. But aside from the recently overdone humans-as-destroyers-of-the-world theme, there really aren’t any thumbs down either.

This is become somewhat of a trend, as more and more bands get signed out of the fertile northeast U.S. base – they all cop from one another. I guess that is how it goes when a scene is building, and being removed from that scene, the subtleties between bands don’t come through. But on a national and international level, it just doesn’t stack up.

The criticism of being just like everyone else is admittedly a sticky one, as every band is in some way like everyone else nowadays. But some bands can pull it off, offering something that stands out - songwriting, musicianship, energy, production, that undefined spark of greatness – and some don’t. Just like love or a good soufflé, we know the special ones when we see them, but we don’t know why, and that applies here to the fullest extent. Unholy does everything right, but they just don’t have the magic sauce to make their music great.

After listening to the album a couple dozen times, looking desperately for something that stands out, it becomes clear that nothing does. They just pound on, and no one seems to mind. And then the outro to the title track finally fades, the album ends, and it the tea is still warm. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

Highs: “Seeker Immortal” is great – as are the guitar leads throughout.

Lows: We’ve heard everything here before.

Bottom line: The ideal “B” student – does everything right, but doesn’t stand out.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)