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Unhold - Towering

Unhold
Towering
by Patrick Eden at 14 February 2015, 9:29 PM

UNHOLD is a Swiss five-piece that play a bizarre variety of run of the mill Doom, Sludge, Ambient, and lighter Stoner Rock. Alternatively, as the band themselves refer to it, Alpine Distortion. However, as our beloved genre is already overflowing with absurd and just plain stupid sub-genres, we’ll ignore that. But you can be content in the knowledge that this is a pretty varied record.

I have to say “Towering” is an interesting record, this is not a style that’s easy to truly pin down, so I have very little idea of what to compare it too. For the most part, it’s the slow, heavily distorted guitars that really carry the album. There’s a bit more pace to “Voice Within” and “Hydra”, and I find myself enjoying these two songs far more. The increase in tempo is nothing dramatic, but it gives these tracks just a hint of energy and a less, for lack of a better word, sludgy feel. Songs such as “Containing The Tyrant” or “I Belong” feel dry and tedious and with their relatively long lengths are only for the true Sludge fan.

The other interesting moments are in the softer songs; these are very atmospheric tracks that wouldn’t feel out of place on ATOMA’s 2012 record “Skylight”. Fitting into this category almost perfectly, is the absolutely sensational, instrumental title track, “Towering”, it is towering indeed. Nine and a half minutes of soft, but powerfully intense ambience. It’s the best track on the album by a country mile and the best instrumental track I’ve heard in general in quite a while.

The other track which follows this trend is album closer, “Death Dying”, again the majority of its six and a half minute length is spent slowly building atmosphere, but towards the end it releases this into a much heavier riff, backed up with some organ chords. Again it’s one of the best songs on the album, and makes me wonder if UNHOLD have been focusing on the wrong genre and the more ambient material is where their talents truly lie.

At almost an hour in length “Towering” can drag on a bit. The tracks; “Emerging”, “Rising” and “Ascending” are all about a minute in length of non-descript noise. With names like that on an album called “Towering”, there has to be some reason for their presence, but I’m suspicious as to what it is, and whether they’re really needed at all, arguably the work as links between two tracks, but I don’t really even see the point in that.

All in all this is an album that will, to a certain extent, keep you guessing. The variation in styles is interesting and prevents the album as a whole from becoming tedious quickly. The vocal contrast between harsh male vocals and the less prevalent female vocals works as well, providing yet another avenue for the band to diverge their sound. For any fans of Ambient or the more atmospheric spheres of Doom/Sludge, this is well worth a look.

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Containing The Tyrant
2. Emerging
3. I Belong
4. Southern Grave
5. Voice Within
6. Rising
7. Towering
8. Hydra
9. Dawn
10. Ascending
11. Death Dying
Lineup:
Miriam Wolf - Piano, Vocals
Philipp Thöni - Guitar, Vocals
Thomas Tschuor - Guitar, Vocals
Leo Matkovic - Bass
Daniel Fischer - Drums
Record Label: Czar Of Crickets Productions
     


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