Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Unhold - Towering (Album Review)


Album Type: Album
Date Released: 16th February 2015
Label: Czar Of Bullets

Towering – Track Listing

1 Containing The Tyrant
2 (Emerging)
3 I Belong
4 Southern Grave
5 Voice Within
6 (Rising)
7 Towering
8 Hydra
9 Dawn
10 (Ascending)
11 Death Dying

Bio

UNHOLD are influenced by various kinds of heavy rock music – metal and noiserock, hardcore. Not to be easily stuck in just one section, UNHOLD is a multi-headed beast with both feet dug into the ground and the head surrounded by blizzards. Set to merge beauty and beast into one single hybrid creature - fierce, intimi- dating, beautiful and compelling. UNHOLD early on forged the term «Alpine Distortion», which still to date embodies their own consolidation of sludgy athmospheric metal.

In order to achieve more depth and density UNHOLD had its ears and eyes open for opportunities to comple- ment their sound and move forward, thus incorporating new members to the band - Miriam Wolf on piano and vocals and Leo Matkovic on bass. Leo was allready involved doing visuals on the «Gold Cut» tour 2008/’09, Miriam brings artistic vision and experience gathered in Bands such as Crippled Black Phoenix and My Wolf.

Besides some tours through Europe UNHOLD had the pleasure to open shows for bands like Shrinebuilder, A Storm Of Light, Minsk, Coalesce, Crowbar, The Ocean, From Ashes Rise, Sick Of It All, Biohazard, Strife, Endstand, Transport League & Tribute To Nothing.

Members

Leo Matkovic - Bass
Miriam Wolf - Piano & Vocals
Philipp Thöni - Guitar & Vocals
Daniel Fischer - Drums
Thomas Tschuor - Guitar & Vocals

Review:

Imagine my surprise when I received the promo for Unhold’s new album – Towering – to review. Why was I surprised?

Unhold split up in 2012 after being active for 20 years. They released 3 full-length albums within that time and the last one being released in 2008. I was a major fan of Unhold back in the day. I was quite sad they called it a day. Now in 2015 they had fully reformed, a new album is being released, and here was my chance to review the album. So has anything changed since their last album. You betcha. It is a more spacey affair as Towering venture further into Space Rock territory but more about that later.

Towering is an album lasting 60 minutes or so. If you are a fan of Neurosis, Kyuss and Kylesa then you are in for a treat as Unhold go straight for the jugular. Opening track – Death Of A Tyrant – opens with an ambient noise before the heavy pounding sludge metal riffs brings back memories of Neurosis and Kylesa. Look beneath the surface as you can see Unhold adding a distinctive piano in the background with the vocal duties being shared between 2 members of the band. The track opens up the album with a mighty roar and only shows a brief glimpse on what to expect.

Second track – Emerging – is an ambient driven drone based track, which is played in the darkness with a few noises being added for good measure. It only lasts a minute or so before the heavy pounding riffs come to play with excellent 3rd track – I Belong. The vocals have an eerie Scott Kelly vibe with a slow and disturbing musical rhythm slowly building up into something heavier and organic. The riffs become slightly faster and more progressive as Unhold slowly start channelling some bleak post-metal/noise rock energy onto the masses. It is a startling and bleak affair that fully make you aware of how powerful Unhold actually are.

Fourth track – Southern Grave – is a more straightforward Noise Rock/Sludge Metal song with hints of Prog Rock and Stoner Metal appearing here and there. It has more of a stripped back approach with the music being played at a slower pace. The vocals once again are shared between different members. Unhold have 3 talented vocals to choose from. Fans of Kylesa will definitely get a kick of this track, as it will bring back a lot of memories. Unhold’s style of Noise Rock/Prog Sludge is another winning factor that make this album such a joy to listen to.

Fifth Track – Voice Within – sees Miriam take centre stage on vocal duties. And it is a stunning performance that is filled with pain, sorrow and regret. The guitars take a more heartfelt and quiet approach and this gives Miriam the chance to shine. Though you can hear heavy pounding sludge riffs lurking in the background waiting to explode which what happens for the last two mins or so. It is one of the albums standout tracks for you to fully witness.

The next part of the album is where Unhold venture into the realm of Space Rock with 6th track – Rising – offering a 48-second interlude with a thought provoking speech set against an ambient backdrop. A brief quiet pause happens before 7th track – Towering – carries on the Space Rock vibe with intriguing NASA soundbytes venturing into space with a soothing post-rock melodic odyssey providing a few uplifting moments along the way. It is quite brave for Unhold to venture into this direction with their music as it slows the mood right down and it does not suffer as a result. It is a beautifully played Progressive Space Rock song that actually is quite euphoric. Though wait until the 6:30 minute mark when Unhold start adding heavier guitars to give this song a more uplifting feel.

Unhold return to their heavier progressive sludge metal roots for the next few songs starting with eighth track – Hydra – and it is one of the albums standout tracks with the vocals and riffs perfectly combining for a haunting tale packed full of noise and precision. Maybe I have given too much away with the albums content, which I can only apologise for. As stated at the start I was very excited to review this album, as it is the first album they have released in almost 7 years. It does not disappoint as Unhold keep some of the best music for the last few songs that sees them venturing into many different genres. The piano is really put to good use on later tracks adding a sense of calm amongst the heavier instrumental work.

Unhold have created something special with Towering as even this early in 2015, Towering is potential Album Of The Year Material. No question.

Thanks to Czar of Crickets Productions for the promo. Towering will be available to buy from Czar of Crickets Productions from February 15th 2015 on CD/Vinyl.

Words by Steve Howe

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