Unwritten Law
Swan


4.0
excellent

Review

by Magnus Altkula STAFF
March 26th, 2011 | 34 replies | 14,147 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unwritten Law pick up right where they left off in 2005 and create their most inspired record in the process

When I read that Unwritten Law were coming back from hiatus, I was thrilled; when I read that Swan will be the group’s swan song, I was bummed. Unwritten Law is one of those bands that I grew up with, and I have a hard time letting go of my early favorites (for example, when Crossbreed broke up in late '10, I felt like a part of my childhood died), especially when they are still producing quality material (2005's Here's To The Mourning was a great album and second best to Elva in Unwritten Law’s discography). But then things took a turn (for the best) after the guys in Unwritten Law felt how well they gelled together in the studio, and instead of being a swan song, the new album turned out to be a resurrection one.

And I’m glad, I appreciate that these guys have decided to keep going, especially since Swan, a record that will start a new chapter in Unwritten Law's story, is such an excellent album. Musically, it continues right where predecessor Here’s To The Mourning left off, dropping even more of the band’s punk roots and replacing them with a more distinct rock sound with big poppy hooks. That’s not a bad thing though, because Unwritten Law have always had a nice poppy vibe to their brand of punk rock, it's just more evident than ever before on their two most recent releases, and besides, it works for the band’s advantage. The arena rock-styled wailing in songs like "Let You Go" and "Nevermind", the accentuated role of Scott Russo's trademark "whoa whoa"’s and "oh-oh-oh"’s, the cheesy yet enjoyable group chants and handclaps, the joyous, bouncy rhythms – all channel a distinct poppy vibe and all work so damn well, pushing Swan right up there alongside Elva and Here's To The Mourning in quality.

What I especially like about Swan is that it does sound as inspired as the band promised it’ll be. While mellow songs are no new feat for Unwritten Law, they sound genuinely heartfelt and honest here like they did in the days of Elva. Actually, the whole album does. Whether it be Unwritten Law’s trademark punk rock sound on "Starships and Apocalypse", or the arena rock stylings featured on "Nevermind", or the successful rap-rock (in 2011!) party anthem "Chicken (Ready To Go)", the record just sounds down to earth and honest. Even when Russo reverts to his vintage, more carefree lyricism, it sounds strangely veracious, for example, when he proclaims in "Let You Go": "Well there’s one - I’m here for fun / and there’s two – I make the rules / well there’s three – it’s all about me / and there’s four – well there’s no more". Maybe it’s the tone, or maybe it’s the delivery, but the point is, Swan is the most bona fide thing the band has ever done. Years past now I will probably still remember Unwritten Law from Elva period first and foremost - that fun punk rock band that had the occasional thoughtful song - but Swan's familiar, warm feel most certainly evokes lovely feelings and memories. This makes Swan predominantly an album for the fans of the band, and for the band itself.

My only gripe with Swan is that it lacks a true commanding anthem like "Seeing Red" off Elva or "Celebration Song." off Here’s To The Mourning. All the songs are good, easily distinguishable and most have big choruses, but there isn’t a clear cut standout to be found on Swan, not to me at least. The closest thing to a pure-blooded representative is the energetic closer "Swan Song", but it ends somewhat abruptly and with it, the album does too. The first single and album opener "Starships and Apocalypse" could potentially do the trick as well, but listening to it, while it has the classic Unwritten Law feel and mood, it's just a little too conventional to be a true ambassador for Swan, because while the album does have its own sound and personality, it's too intricate to be embodied by a single classic-style Unwritten Law song.

It has been fun seeing the guys grow as musicians since the days of their third, self-titled studio album, which was my first taste of them. They are still clearly having fun, but as a collective, are doing their thing better now than ever before. When we used to think about Unwritten Law, we thought of Scott Russo and his distinct voice carrying the band’s songs (not that the instrumentation was bad, Russo’s just always been the driving force behind Unwritten Law). Now we should think of Unwritten Law as a collective of well-established musicians playing solid ’n’ smooth rock music for the sake of enjoyment. Everything seems to be in place, and while Russo is still undoubtedly the band's lead man, everyone seem to have an equally important role. Swan is the band's most mature record, and even though it doesn't touch the greatness of Elva as an extremely fun punk rock album to cruise around to in summer, it does come close to it as another quality Unwritten Law record. The band has re-found its sense of purpose, and Swan is a testament to that.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Hep Kat
March 26th 2011



15246 Comments


oh wooooooooooooooooooooord?





Digging: Botany Boyz - Forever Botany

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Basically, what everyone need to take into account with this is that it's not another punk rock record like Elva, but a poppy rock record that still has enough of that classic Unwritten Law flavor. If you can dig that, you'll like this album a lot, if you're craving for the band's punk rock days, you'll probably think this is a little boring. It's an expected progression from Here's To The Mourning, that's for sure.

Willie
Moderator
March 26th 2011



15897 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I grew up on this band too. Growing up in San Diego I saw them live a lot. My fav is Elva. Good review, I'll check this out.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really wish I had the opportunity to see all these bands live but oh well, Northern/East Europe is just not that popular of a touring place for US bands it seems.

I do hope you'll like it, but we'll see. You gave Here's To The Mourning a 2.5 and musically Swan is closer to that than Elva. Get back to me about what you thought when you've given this a few spins.

Tyrael
March 26th 2011



20795 Comments


This sounds really awesome. Great review Styles, I will check this out.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Tyraelxy, I hope you'll like it.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



16299 Comments


Good review man, never heard these guys but I'll youtube a few tracks to see what I think.

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

LG
March 26th 2011



3049 Comments


Woah!

Rev
March 26th 2011



9402 Comments


LET'S GET FUCKED UP


saw them 3 weeks ago, so much fun.

Great review, can't believe Del is on this

Emim
March 26th 2011



26570 Comments


Will check out. Good review, man.


And RIP Crossbreed : (

Ponton
Emeritus
March 26th 2011



5785 Comments


Nice styles. I've never been a fan of their albums, butI've always enjoyed a track or two from them

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys

Crysis - I severely doubt that this is something you'd enjoy, but if you feel like giving a few poppy rock tracks a go, sure I guess.

TheReverend724 - I was thinking what the hell too initially, but his guest spot is actually pretty welcome as his voice mashes unexpectedly well with Unwritten Law's music on that cut. I still almost can't believe it, but it's a solid rap-rock track in 2011!

Emim - RIP Crossbreed indeed

Jared - well the album is streaming here: http://www.myspace.com/unwrittenlaw, so if you ever get curious you can give it a try. And thanks man.

LG
March 26th 2011



3049 Comments


I can't believe this isn't metal...I don't even.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2011



8321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jumping out of the metal zone feels nice for a change to be honest haha.

CrownOfMagnets
March 27th 2011



2247 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm diggin this.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2011



28369 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i cant wait to listen to this

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

Twelvetribes230
March 30th 2011



105 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was skeptical at first about this record after hearing the song Superbad...aside from that song and Chicken ...it's a really solid CD with some great rock songs that keep the foot tapping.

Firecracker
March 31st 2011



106 Comments


oh SWEET, I am definitely checking this out.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2011



7982 Comments


SO FOLLOW THE LEADER NOW

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2011



7163 Comments


Great review. Pos.

And is it just me or have you not reviewed in quite a while?



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