Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Unshored - The Unshored

Everyone has been patiently waiting for more vocals in the style of Ved Buens Ende’s Written in Waters, right? Well, whether that’s true or not, the extremely distinctive vocal style here isn’t something you hear every day. But, The Unshored really pulls it off on this debut self-titled album. For those that aren’t put off by the unusually layered baritone moans and their sometimes off-kilter delivery, this is an interesting but flawed work. While the album sounds much too wide to be an obvious solo project, it actually is. Aside from assistance on the drum and bass composition the entire work is straight from the mind of Mike LaRocco. Using genre tags like black, death, and progressive, the music also has some clear doom/sludge influences; which is a broad enough set of influences to give the project the nebulous extreme metal moniker.

In fairness, the album uses a variety of vocal styles, death growls to black metal raps, but the weirder ones are absolutely the most effective at adding color to the music. The sad part is that Mike LaRocco underutilizes the bizarre harmonized cleans, although the first and final track use them to great effect. However, the middle of the album sags like an old horse’s back. The doom/sludge influences often cause the album’s pacing to stall out in overly simplistic repetition. When this composition device first shows up at the end of “Unheimlich,” it works pretty well. But by the time you get through a similar (and long) passage in “Nocturnal Psychosis,” you can see the project’s weak point. Progressive tendencies elsewhere in the music only make these rather dull sections more glaring. Discontinuities between the uptempo “No Vacancy” and the songs before and after it also suggest that the project is still developing a direction.

Given that this is a debut release, and a full-length at that, it’s easy to speculate and play the role of editor. This would have been a really solid and promising demo, or EP for that matter. The first and last tracks are really damn good and make up more than 20 minutes of material! The Unshored’s eclecticism isn’t the problem, the project just needs further refining. In particular, the weaker tracks have less intriguing structures when compared to the pieces like “Unheimlich” and “The Spinning Sphere.” Of course more weird vocals would be great, but aren’t the kind of thing that everyone will appreciate. Definitely worth a shot if you have a Written in Waters itch that Virus is too rockin’ to scratch or if you have a taste for unusual vocal styles.

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