Review by Toine van Poorten
UNSHINE hails from Finland and they call their music druid metal. Now that’s something different. Their album “The Enigma Of Immortals” contains eleven new tracks with a running time of almost a full hour. “What can I expect from druid metal?”, is my major question, when listening to the short instrumental opener “Awen”. Judging by the first few songs on this album, it’s a mix of powerful instrumentation mixed with some beautiful angelic vocals. It’s the content of the lyrics, that seems to make the big difference here. Susanna Vesilahti, the frontlady of UNSHINE, was rumoured to become the new NIGHTWISH vocalist for a while. I am glad though, that she stayed with UNSHINE. With this band, she recorded their debut album, called “Earth Magick”, followed by this one, “The Enigma Of Immortal”. The album sounds like a fairytale on metal music. Listen to the lengthy epic “Catherine His Beloved” to get my point. It could very well have been the metal soundtrack for the movie “Narnia”, including the sound of birds singing. UNSHINE consists of Harri Hautala on guitar and keyboards, Jaro Hautala on guitar, Teemu ‘Teemal’ Vähäkangas on bass and Jukka ‘Stibe’ Hantula on drums. “Luminaries” would fit that same description. It contains some folk influences, symphonic parts and even has some Celtic influences here and there. As you can see, there is a lot of variation in styles and influences in the long, epical songs, that easily reach the length of seven to eight minutes. “The Paradise Lost” and “Washer At The Ford” are a few shorter examples of this fairytale-like sound. While “The Sheer Of Night” is a longer and more epical tune. The folky atmosphere returns in the last song, which is called “With The Silents Of The Earth”. Perhaps it’s even one of the most catchy songs on this album. An album, that is full of exciting and joyful folky-edged melodic metal. In the world of UNSHINE, this is labeled as ‘druid metal’. I think, that Panoramix will have a great day listening to “The Enigma Of Immortal”!
Metal CD Ratings
Review by Clint
Well, this was sure a surprise…
Unshine is a female fronted symphonic/gothic metal band from Finland that formed back in 2001, released their full-length debut ‘Earth magick’ in 2005, and ‘The enigma of immortals’ is their 2nd CD, which was released earlier in 2008. When I purchased both of their CDs back about 4 months ago, I must admit that I wasn’t expecting them to be anything too special, as the samples I heard (when I decided to get the CDs) came off as solid, but nothing more. As is the case on regular occasion, I was wrong, and this time I’m glad I was.
The general style of Unshine can definitely be called symphonic/gothic metal, but I must emphasize right away that they have their own unique style, both musically and vocally. For starters, female vocalist Susanna Vesilahti provides an amazing performance that’s unlike any I’ve heard in all of my metal days. Her vocal method is unusual yet very refreshing, as her voice is soft, but seems to hesitate (almost pause at times) and grab your attention. It’s a bit hard to describe her actually, but while I was scratching my head after hearing her unusual vocal approach the first few songs, she immediately grew on me. I’m not talking about her vocals sinking in after 5 or 6 spins of the CDs, I’m talking about them hitting me within the first listen.
Musically, the band is really something special. They mix up the tempo to perfection, providing some flashes of speed, while mostly staying within the slow-paced or mid-paced area. The atmosphere ranges from powerful and upbeat, to soothing, pleasant, mellow, and even mesmerizing. Overall, the CD is very memorable, dramatic, and the journey through the many emotions is quite an experience. The music, combined with the magic of Susanna’s lovely voice, always leaves me wanting more, and really, the way the music and vocals fit so flawlessly together is almost shocking.
There is not one weak song in the band’s discography thus far, but I can tell you that my favorite song is track 5 “Catherine is beloved” from this CD, as it’s long but takes us on a ride through many different sides of tempo and emotion. Just like all of their other songs, it’s extremely captivating and leaves a lasting impression. While Unshine is different (in the ways described) from other female fronted symphonic/gothic metal bands out there, I will mention that about 2 or 3 weeks into my experience with this band Midnattsol popped into my head as a possible comparison. So if you have that band, you should get a good general idea of where Unshine lies on the scale of style.
While I’ve listened to both ‘Earth magick’ and ‘The enigma of immortals’ together over the last several weeks and I love them both, I do think that their 2nd CD is slightly better than the debut, though I definitely recommend both to a high extent. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words how I feel about a band, but by calling this band both a surprise and something special, hopefully you’ll understand.
Review by Dave
This is pagan/druid metal at it’s prime. Music that spiritually and carnally marries the world of primeval nature mysticism, with no-compromise stonehard melodic symphonic metal. Despite their short-time existence, Finnish druid metal quintette UNSHINE has hit the metal world like a clang from an iron-age hammer, with their originally blended receipt of metal. A great album featuring tracks that encompass beautiful melodies and well arranged synths. The vocals of Susanna Vesilahti are quite captivating, while the whole album is very addictive. This is an easy to listen too album, while heavy, atmospheric and catchy all at the same time. Just check out the tracks ‘The Paradise Lost’, ‘Forget Me Not’ and ‘With The Silents Of The Earth’ amongst a whole host of other little gems, and then start dancing with the fairies and elves. Awesome stuff.
Live 4 Metal
This album has a great cover, that would have really looked good as a 12 inch vinyl record. It reworks the concept of the Green Man, which is familiar to anybody into paganism, folk music or folk traditions, into a Green Woman. In a similar way the album takes themes that have been well used in the girlie goth metal genre and remakes them, sounding fresh yet familiar at once. If you think that ‘In a Reverie’ & ‘Mother Earth’ are the best albums by Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation respectively (and a mate of mine does) then ‘the enigma of immortals’ will be for you.
Unshine are from Finland and describe themselves as Druid Metal. They have produced two demos, followed in 2004 by their debut album ‘Earth Magick’. On this album the material is mainly written by guitar & keyboard player Harri Hautala, with some co-credits to singer Susana Vasilahti. The keywords here are monumental, sweeping and atmospheric. In particular ‘Catherine His Beloved’ at 9.56, with a sampled birdsong meets drum break (which makes a lot more sense than it looks written down) feels like a mediaeval folk epic. It is almost progressive in scope with huge keyboard choirs. On the next track, ‘Luminaries’, the opening keyboard riff is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s classic ‘No Quarter’ while the guitar riff later is close to the Hammer Horror riff from the track ‘Black Sabbath’. All topped off with a great chorus of “timeless and divine”. Awesome! Lyrically the tracks include a mix of shamanism, folk epics and doomed gothic romanticism. This album is so atmospheric that it is positively bosky. To get maximum effect you should probably be using a pine forest incense, while reading a Robert Holdstock book by candlelight. As well as the usual girlie goth metal sounds there are elements of Carmina Burana, and the Mediaeval Baebes here. If this album were any more primal you would be able to folk dance to it, but at the same time it rocks out. All of which may well be what the band were trying to achieve. For me one of the albums of the year.
Review by Paul Travers FEMME-FRONTED METAL THAT’S AWAY WITH THE FAERIES.
FEMALE-FRONTED METAL bands from mainland Europe aren’t exactly thin on the ground these days but Finland’s Unshine stand out from the symphonic masses with a quirky and slightly more restrained, less bombastic approach. Labelling themselves a druid metal act, they warble about spirits and the power of nature with a fey wistfulness that sounds like folky pop-rock troubadours All About Eve wedded to the more usual glacial goth-metal stylings of Nightwish minus the opera. The synth augmentation is more gently balletic than full-on symphonic overkill while Susanna Vesilahti’s lush vocals add a polished top to an always interesting and individualistic band.
DOWNLOAD: The Paradise Lost.
FOR FANS OF: Nightwish, The Gathering.
Review by Stuart Moses
Finland’s five piece Unshine make what they call ‘druid metal’, a genre which in their case means ‘music that spiritually and carnally marries the world of primeval nature mysticism with no-compromise stonehard melodic symphonic metal’. It’s good to know where we stand from the beginning.
“Awen” is an ersatz Celtic/Lord of the Rings mood setter, which clears the palette for “Gathering Of The Kindred Spirits”. The latter song soars like Mandylion-era The Gathering. For six minutes it ebbs and flows like the sea, by the end you feel as if you’ve travelled through several magic kingdoms. The mix of acoustic guitars with towers of FX-heavy electric guitar works well. Atmospheric keyboards adds warmth to the listener on the journey. Singer Susanna Vesilahti isn’t as distinctive as ex-The Gathering’s Anneke Van Gierbergen, but her ululations towards the end of this song are hypnotic. “Animal Spirit” starts quietly, before the peace is shattered by shots of guitar. When all the instruments are cranked up it has a catchy tune that lingers long in the mind. Those who like their lyrics with a nature/spiritual edge will find much to enjoy, but they are not so clumsy to alienate those who do not.
“My King” continues matters in a similar catchy vein. Unshine are equally good at short and long songs. “Catherine His Beloved” falls into the latter category, with its 10 minute running time. This increased duration allows for the lows to be lower and the highs to be higher. It’s great when a band can sustain a song over this period of time, allowing the listener to be firmly swept away from mundane existence. There’s even room for bird song five minutes in, before a wah-wah guitar frightens them away. Giant chorus-led keyboards give the song a feeling of scale. Liquid-sounding guitar ushers in “Luminaries”. It’s a refuge and a respite from the majesty that went before. There’s a similar atmosphere to that conjured by bands like The Shroud. The calm is punctuated by those pesky loud guitars, which might shatter the reflective mood or they might plunge you to a deeper level of trance. Unshine really like their long songs, this one clocks in over seven minutes. The best bit is where everything goes spooky (around the four minute mark).
“The Paradise Lost” starts with lower-range-than-usual singing. This keeps things interesting, as does the use of strings. There’s a folky feel during the musical breakdown, which seems to be an occupational hazard if you deal with such lyrical imagery as ‘a serene grove’ and ‘wood spirits and fairies’ to pick two at random. The acoustic guitar lulls the listener into a false sense of security, before the guitars come crashing in. “Washer At The Ford” has the sort of melody that lingers, plus some interesting brass-like sounds. “Forget Me Not” bestrides the world like a colossus, particularly fine is the blend of chanting in the instrumental break. “The Seer Of Sights” features the spooky-monk setting on the keyboards, though this is just one element of its six and half minute length. The basic guitar riff that starts the song, and then recurs later is intriguing and vital. “With The Silents Of The Earth” has a Celtic flavour. It adopts a quiet/loud dynamic, though I am fonder of the former. Thunderous drums and a drunken Viking choir bring the album to a memorable close.
The band inform us, that druids ‘walked between the worlds’. Should you wish to repeat their feats then you should let Unshine be your soundtrack.
Christian / Aix Les Bains, France
I have discovered Unshine few day ago, Unshine is a very good young Finnish band, their new album “The Enigma Of Immortals” have just been released in Finland, you will find on their Myspace page the link for the purchase (in Filande or elsewhere) this album that I recommend.The band is generally classified as Gothic Metal band but personally, after listening few times the air of their songs and the singing of the gorgeous singer Susanna I would classify Unshine as “minstrel metal” (this does not exist!! Then it should be created).
You will not find in this album the singing mode “soprano lyric” more and more traditional for the female fronted Gothic Metal bands (I am also a fan of this but here it is different), you will discover in this album a very pleasant voice and a singing very close in my opinion to the style of Candice Night the singer of Blackmore’s Night. Concerning the melodies, Unshine’s music is much more powerful, much more metal than Blackmore’ S Night, the distortion guitars solos and the drums parts with double pedal are not missing, I appreciate also the beautiful melodies and the various sound effects of the synthesizer present all along the album.
To summarize my opinion, a very pleasant music, very easy to listen to (in the good sense of thinking). I hope to have opportunity to attend to an Unshine gig before my final departure from Finland.
The list of my three preferred songs:
07. The Paradise Lost
03. Animal Spirit
10. The Seer Of Sights
My rate: 9/10