The Unity – The Hellish Joyride (Steamhammer/SPV)Monday, 28th August 2023
Like many musicians during COVID-19 times, The Unity decided to wait on issuing their next studio album until the smoke proverbially cleared, live venues opening up to regular capacities again so that records could be properly promoted in the best way possible. Especially after their third album Pride was released on the same day that the main borders closed (3/13/2020). In the interim the band would release a live album The Devil You Know during the fall of 2021, finally getting down to work over the last two years for the next record The Hellish Joyride. Edguy bassist Tobias ‘Eggi’ Exxel is the latest member to join the sextet, adding his professionalism and songwriting skills to an already strong array of talent contained within the group.
Those listeners who love melodic power metal that spans a wide range of textures especially in terms of the emotions, attitude, and compositions will have plenty to enjoy through these twelve tracks. Opener “One World” has this interesting grandiose aura for its brevity at 1:27, blooming from softer, clean guitar chords into this lifting, almost orchestral crescendo which sets the stage for the charging “Masterpiece”, an ideal power number complete with the charging power riffs, soaring chorus / vocal acrobatics, as well as flashy fills / double kick prowess. As you travel through the record, the variety is quite notable – the uplifting chord progressions and positive melodies for the mid-tempo title cut, the Helloween-esque anthem template a la “Future World” or “I Want Out” with “Always Two Ways to Play”, and the speed metal thunder that traverses old Teutonic/US pastures for “Saints and Sinners”. Between guitarists Henjo Richter/ Stefan Ellerhorst and keyboardist Sascha Onnen there’s plenty of heroic opportunity to display virtuoso skill sets while executing the main musical hook duties – “Only the Good Die Young” containing important organ parts against some thoughtful Deep Purple-esque riffs and Eddie Van Halen-like break action. To break up the normal metal proceedings, the band place two diverse ballads at the midway/finale points with “Something Good” and “You’re Not Forced to Stay” – the latter a showcase for all facets of Jan Manenti’s silky smooth voice in multiple ranges.
The Hellish Joyride showcases a set of musicians enjoying their craft, embracing their abilities as performers and adept songwriters. The Unity continually strive for highest quality songwriting that is as catchy as it is musically satisfying – a combination so many bands hope to achieve yet aren’t as successful at both as these gentlemen are with this record.