The Unguided – Lust and Loathing (Napalm)Wednesday, 17th February 2016
For modern melodic death metal fans, it’s easy to get a little bit of a smile when The Unguided announces a new album. There’s little trepidation or wonder about if the band is going to be veering into those commercial waters that essentially sunk Sonic Syndicate in the past few years. The consistent artwork, inclusion of “Eye” tracks, and clean/harsh dynamics all point to a band that knows who they are and know how to give fans what they want. Lust and Loathing follows this same trend.
While there are little surprises to be found if you’ve kept up with the band over the last two albums, Lust and Loathing offers small tweaks and nuance that show The Unguided are still honing their craft. Opener “Enraged” shows off the catchier side of the band, focusing on upbeat synths, Roland Johansson’s easily identifiable clean vocals (what a killer chorus!), and a real ripping guitar solo. The keyboards feel a bit more playful overall, and The Unguided is right to stick to the bouncier side of their material with “King of Clubs” and “Boneyard” being some of the finest displays of what the band is capable of, with soaring choruses balanced by some more aggressive riffing in the verses (and seemingly just the right balance of keys). Then you have “Phobos Grip,” which goes full melodeath and de-emphasizes the super sugary clean chorus yet keeps it just as addictive with some of the album’s best leads and galloping pace. But they save the most grandiose and epic moment for last, with “Hate (and other Triumphs)” being one of those ‘throw up the horns and sing a long’ mid-tempo chuggers that succeeds at being emotionally-charged yet avoids sappy ballad territory.
Continuing to refine their formula, The Unguided offer up their most complete vision with Lust and Loathing. Everything one could ask for in a modern melodic death metal album – catchy melodies, huge choruses, and intertwined synths all designed for repeat listens with more depth than you might initially think.