Review Summary: Clinic of the Dolls is basically everything End of Life should have been.
Gothic rock/metal is often a genre weighed down by gimmicks and unoriginality. Many popular gothic bands seem to believe that as long as they have keyboards, strings, and a bit of pop, they are instantly gothic – this is a false notion. One has to dig deep to find true and excellent gothic metal bands such as Draconian. The question that remains is whether UnSun’s new album will stand out in the midst of many popular gothic bands. Have no fear though, for Clinic of the Dolls is an excellent addition to the band’s small discography.
In their previous album, End of Life, UnSun attempted to follow in the footsteps of bands such as Within Temptation, and Lacuna Coil. While this ensured their placement as one of the dominating mainstream gothic metal bands, this also resulted in them sounding too similar to other bands - such is not the case in Clinic of the Dolls. This album is basically a compilation of everything the band should have done in their debut album. Whereas their previous album had obscenely blurry guitars (and thus a nu-metal feel), this album is crystal clear. All instruments receive breathing space in this album, able to stretch out and avoid fuzzed confusion. This means that the album is recorded beautifully, and it also means something else.
The band is now purely metal, with blistering guitars, and the constant presence of double-bass pedals. It could even be considered a power metal album, which suits UnSun better than you may think. Mainly, it is Aya’s powerful and exotic, but excessively sweet voice that pushes the band into unfamiliar territory. She has complete control over her vocals, she always hits the notes, does not require additional technical wizardry to mend her vocals, and even sings well during live performances; in this album’s case, you could say that she puts the “power” in “power” metal. Aya’s voice is as smooth and dreamy as marshmallows in hot chocolate, and since she is also a beauty with a hot accent, Aya is once again the most appealing aspect of UnSun.
In the past, the band’s strongest features included their ability to conjure a dazzling soundscape, as well as thier ability to make catchy songs. Once again, an atmosphere of gorgeous piano, strings, and synthesizers accompany the abusive guitars and rattling drums. This time though, the instruments conjuring the atmosphere are a bit less dizzying since they are used less excessively or blatantly. When synthesizers are used, they often appear in short flourishes and then disappear, which also seems to be the pattern for the rest of the accompanying instruments. Speaking of patterns, every song in this album is incredibly catchy. Also, every song is memorable, with strong melodies and choruses. The band can now naturally produce catchy songs, as if they have been in the music industry forever. The downside of this, though, is that nearly all of the songs are the same, and although their formula truly works, it also results in too much repetition.
I could go on and on explaining why this is an excellent album, but ultimately, you need to listen to this yourself. Clinic of the Dolls is a massive improvement over End of Life in every possible way. The band have seemingly matured a great deal since End of Life; they have thrown away any elements from their previous album that were unwanted, but have also kept everything that made the band compelling and unique. They are currently on an upward spiral, and it remains to be seen whether or not the band will eventually crash down to earth. For now though, Clinic of the Dolls is an outstanding album, and seems to indicate greatness in the band’s future.