The Unslain – Descending
Release Date: 19/05/23
Running Time: 55:06
Review by Simon Black
For such a young band, Netherlands-based The Unslain have a lot of Classic Metal tropes balanced with the Modern Metal ones and enough Metalcore in their veins to keep things edgy, which is probably why their description of themselves as “Modern Old School Metal” is bang on. To be fair it’s a better classification than anything else I could come up with, and proof that an old schooling is still a good schooling…
To be honest it’s a mix that works really well, and for ye olde fartes like me it works nicely to balance the changing styles the decades have thrown at us. What it does do is deliver brutally tight and in- your-face song structures that slice parts of your anatomy off on their way. It’s fast, punchy, hugely energetic and shows a depth and technical proficiency that wasn’t what I was expecting at all.
Vocally Jeroen Hermsen stays mostly on the edgy side of clean, but with enough aggression to take things up a notch when necessary alongside more extreme tinged vocals coming from Indy Wessels backing lines. Having those counterpointed vocals in Metalcore is nothing new, having them come from the drum riser is, and it’s just another example of their technical calibre that he pulls this off whilst rattling out some hugely sophisticated and challenging rhythm lines. The only challenge is that the vocal melodies all follow the rhythms very closely in the way that Thrash acts with singers wielding rhythm guitars and basses have always had to deal with, but actually it helps hammer the message home like an effective sucker punch and some time-changes sharp enough to lose a finger to.
The songs are all quite dark and moody, which does leave you wishing for a change in tone occasionally, due to its long run time, but it’s so well delivered that I went back and listened to their debut “We Will Battle”. To be honest, “Descending” stands head and shoulders above that as they’ve developed so much since 2018 that this feels like their real sound, and probably, their time…
‘Within’ Official Video
02. To Hell
06. (In) Hell I Am
08. Into The Unknown
09. Let Me Stay
10. Long Road out of Hell
11. Eden – part 1: ‘Apocalypse Postponed’
Bart Foppes – Guitars
Jeroen Hermsen – Vocals / Guitars
Indy Wessels – Drums / Backing Vocals
Luc Builtjes – Bass
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