|Illustration by Philipp Thöni/BlackYard|
The only reason I’m even aware of Unhold’s existence is because they opened for A Storm of Light at a show I attended on a whim, in Geneva, in 2008. I’ve been a fan ever since, despite a lack of any new material from them since then. It turns out they broke up in 2012, then reformed, added a piano player / third vocalist, and dropped a new record in January.
Unhold, like many contemporary doom/sludge bands use Neurosis as a jumping off point and pepper their music with meandering post-rock interludes. But, they do it better than almost anyone else and the addition of keyboards has brought the group’s sound to another level. Towering is utterly phenomenal. They seamlessly blend crushing doom, ambient passages, stoner rock, post rock and some spacey psychedelic passages into a kind of cinematic-post-stoner-doom.
Complementing the genre acrobatics are three different vocalists ranging from Scott Kelly style well-bellowing, to spoken-word passages, to soaring Coheed and Cambria style leads, to beautiful female vocals provided by new member Miriam who also plays keyboards and really rounds out the group’s sound.
With such diverse influences and sounds Towering could be a mess but it’s far from it. The disparate sounds are brought together with stunning cohesion to make a true album experience. No one song captures the band’s sound; in fact I was initially offput by the unmelodic first half of album opener "Containing the Tyrant", but after having listened through the whole album and coming back to the start I “got it” and was completely hooked.
Towering is a journey through everything Unhold has on offer and one of the best albums of the year.
(It’s also worth noting that the Pangolin shirt they’re selling is probably the best metal shirt available on Bandcamp)
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]