Review Summary: If this was a Sonic Syndicate album, it would’ve been their best, but fact is… It is not.
By now we all know the world sensation of the popular metal called Sonic Syndicate. They had a good thing going for them with tree respectable albums; “Eden Fire” in 2005, “Only Inhuman” in 2007 and “Love and Other Disasters” in 2008. Although in 2010 the band left their fans in disarray with their new musical direction. Question is; will The Unguided be able to reclaim their lost legacy with their debut album Hell Frost"
For those of you who don’t know, The Unguided is a metal band from Falkenberg, Sweden. The band was formed after Richard Sjunnesson’s departure from Sonic Syndicate due to their 2010 album “We Rule the Night” and it’s rather mainstream rock direction.
Some might say The Unguided is a pure Sonic Syndicate-clone. This is true, but what can you expect from a band where 4 out of 5 members are in fact from that band" Seems rather redundant to me. So yes, the dual harsh/clean vocals are back, the melodic leads and sing-alongs are back, and the pop inspired keyboards are back. This was in fact what made Sonic Syndicate such a success back in the days, so why change the formula that worked for them for such a long period of time"
What made Sonic Syndicate fall on its own back was their lack of creativity. Some of their songs sounded completely the same; this is not the case with The Unguided. With their debut album Hell Frost, The Unguided has taken everything that was good about Sonic Syndicate and taken it to another level. So yes, if this was a Sonic Syndicate album, it would’ve been their best, but fact is… It is not. Even if it shares similarities with some of their older albums, Hell Frost has plenty more in store than just a plain Sonic Syndicate album.
There’s improvement in every aspect of their sound;
Richard Sjunnesson’s harsh vocals have never sounded better, and due to Roland Johansson retiring from harsh vocals duties, he has plenty more space to scream his lungs out. Although I miss Roland’s screaming at times, he has brought something completely new to the table; excellent guitar playing! Roland doesn’t only have an impressive and powerful voice he’s also quite the talented guitar player and shreds the album to bits and pieces with his blistering guitar solos. A good example of this new found sound can be found on songs like “Betrayer of the Code” and “Green Eyed Demon”. Speaking of guitar playing, the bands composer and Richard’s brother, Roger Sjunnesson has improved as a songwriter and brings The Unguided to new and explores side, like the songs “My Own Death” and “Where the Frost Rose Withers”. These are by no means something we would’ve found on a Sonic Syndicate album, where “My Own Death” features a groovy yet catchy guitar riff and “Where the Frost Rose Withers” is a slower track that still keeps its heaviness and doesn’t turn into a ballad. Not everything is new however, we still have songs like “Inherit the Earth” and “Collapse My Dream” that sounds much like classic Sonic Syndicate. So have no fear… there are still sing-alongs! Not strange since possibly half of the songs on the album are either reworked unused Sonic Syndicate or Fallen Angels (former Sonic Syndicate) songs, "Phoenix Down" and "Inceheart Fragment" are an example of reworked Sonic Syndicate songs.
The keyboards are also improved, they no longer sound overproduced or as the main aspect of the songs. They are now a part of the songs structure and fits them nicely, compared to We Rule the Night where the keyboards either sounded like the main instrument or totally out of place. Henric Carlsson from Cipher System is the bands bassist, but Jonas Kjellgren from Scar Symmetry (whom also produced the album) played the bass for the album, and there’s not too much to say, they fit and follows the guitars nicely, but never plays anything unexpected. The drumming, John Bengtsson from Sonic Syndicate does his fair share to make the album sound as good as it does. His drumming never seems to disappoint me. He keeps it at a tight level and is truly a talented drummer. Glad to see him also joining the rebirth of Sonic Syndicate, wouldn’t have been the same, he has a distinct way of drumming that fits their formula perfectly.
All in all, Hell Frost is the best album made by any of these musicians. It is truly a masterpiece worth picking up. I don’t have any complains about this album. I hoped for screaming by Roland, and possibly a ballad, but what I got was far better. Even if you didn’t like Sonic Syndicate, The Unguided might just change your mind.
Recommended tracks: Inherit the Earth, Betrayer of the Code & Where the Frost Rose Withers