Unsun - Clinic for Dolls
Armoury Records
Gothic Metal
10 songs (44'16")
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Alex

While working on the review of Polish female-fronted goth metallers Unsun I was obligated to do a little research. The band’s background and makeup simply forces you to do it. Unsun, arriving at their current moniker from the earlier used Unseen, is the band of ex-Vader guitarist Maurycy “Mauser” Stefanowicz, with vocals handled by Mauser’s wife Annelyse, aka as Aya. The reviews of the band’s debut The End of Life were less than flattering and mostly scathing, the pundits lambasting the music, finding the album’s only redeeming value in Aya’s front cover “hot” photograph.

Clinic for Dolls largely tuned down the visuals. Only half of Aya’s face wearing dollsy makeup is shown without a trace of a body curve to be seen. Yet after several listens to Clinic for Dolls I am still not sure I want to spend my time verifying the claims about The End of Life musical deficiencies. That seems to be the bad news for Unsun latest. At the same time, if I try to line up Unsun old criticisms against its 2010 musical output, I suppose the reality is not that atrocious. Especially, if you prefer clearly commercial music to bear a heavier edge, just for the sake of it bearing such heavy edge not to be called outright commercial. (This was a mouthful).

Clinic for Dolls is a pretty saturated wall of sound, based around downtuned guitar chord work, woven in keyboard melodies (not credited to any musician on the album as no keyboardist is listed), punched up in the mix juicy drums and Aya’s voice. All of this mixture stands to result in music which is only grey-shade dark, but extremely energetic. With their power masculine approach to gothic genre Unsun reminds a bit of Amaran, with songs definitely less memorable than on Amaran’s swansong Pristine in Bondage. At least Clinic for Dolls is nowhere the snoozer Delain is, but Unsun more-than-standard song structure with oft-repeating parts drags the album down mightily.

There is no question Aya is able to sing, otherwise the whole point of Unsun existence, as some claimed, was for Mauser to pay homage to his wife. Her voice, however, is very boyish, that of the girl yet to reach puberty. I can hear that timbre in my 10-year old when she is trying to emulate her favorite, at the moment, radio hit. On one hand the high in Aya’s voice can irritate and grate, especially considering she rarely explores anything below the next to the highest octave. At the same time, she is not afraid to throw a gauntlet to the music darker foundation, floating and resonating above it (title track). The Last Tear has almost nothing but Aya and piano, proving one more time the true worth of her voice, while still leaving the desire of her to explore something in the lower register.

When Mauser is getting bored with the choppy chord modern approach (Mockers) and simpler hooks (A Single Touch), he may throw a more extensive lead (Time), and he really tries not to lose the harsher guitar tone in the catchy bubbly melody (I Ceased).

More drama (Home) or heavier chord-only skeleton (Not Enough), Unsun is fit enough for radio play, but is still a second welterweight tier gothic metal band. As little as I am a fan of the genre, even I can realize that. Shorter songs and more condensed varied point of view could have created a stronger impression, but Unsun operates within confining style to begin with. Experienced, quality, but toned down, musicianship can’t save the whole of a day for Clinic for Dolls and the envelope is begging to be pushed.

Killing Songs :
The Lost Way, Clinic for Dolls and after that you feel like you have just heard it 2 songs prior
Alex quoted 68 / 100
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