Unseelie - Urban Fantasy review




Bandcamp music player
Reviewer:
8.5

10 users:
7.10
Band: Unseelie
Album: Urban Fantasy
Release date: December 2014


01. Strangers
02. Quantify Your Soul
03. The City Feeds On You
04. Frontier
05. Hunters' Game
06. The White Passenger
07. Of Water And Dreams
08. Prometheus' Pain
09. Beauty Is Our Only Saviour
10. Closer To Apotheosis [bonus]


What has humanity forsaken in our current path and quest for rational knowledge? Unseelie has crafted a debut that is tribute to the intangible energies, the elegance of forgotten poets in a world that values logic, and the neglected souls that have decayed as modern life has swept them away. With dramatic arrangements wrapped in gothic atmospheres, absorbing yet accessible guitar lines, and vocals that are as opaquely mesmerizing as the solemn face of someone beautiful floating in water, Urban Fantasy not only mourns our progress, it reminds us that so many of the answers humans seek may have always been there, between the unseen cracks of light and darkness.

Above a growing pulse of electronic atmospherics, subdued bass notes, vocalist/lyricist Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier announces the album's purpose with forlorn whispered lines, and echoes the Martin Heidegger quote gracing the inside album cover:

We are too late for the gods and too early for Being.


Her voice is a watery mixture of confusion, understanding, and discovery, and, as the main chorus finishes with the words "We don't belong / Anywhere," she trails off like a fading reflection of a group of faces somehow trapped in stasis upon the side of an icy skyscraper.

While Urban Fantasy is quite heavy on keyboards and modern guitar sounds, in "The City Feeds On You" I found the addition of simple folk melodies beneath them a nice touch, expressing the lingering connection a being trapped in the urban landscape feels with a more distant past. As the three minute mark approaches, the soft melody switches instantly to a more powerful keyboard version, embodying the song's protagonist's inner chaos as it attempts to escape. This is a technique frequently employed by Marc Chevallereau, who is responsible for all instruments, as he layers different instruments at turning points in the plots of each song. Perhaps my favorite version of this occurs in the more uptempo "Hunters' Game," as the percussion sets up an energetic gothic-tinged synth solo, then reverts to a more straightforward guitar version, and slows to softer chords. It's as if the song's subject runs in chaotic inner turmoil, gains some level of acceptance, and then slows breathlessly as fear slips away as the purifying hand of death approaches.

Though not really a ballad, "Of Water And Dreams" is easily the most delicate tracks of the album. Replete with a backdrop of misty sampling, soft chords, and Anne-Emmanuelle's centering warmth as she pleads "Embrace me," this song not only gives Marc a chance to offer a contemplative guitar riff, but is a well-timed lead up to the following track. "Prometheus' Pain" shows off the album's production with one thing I have always loved about music, that of the dramatic pause as a rush of instrumentation begins. Powerful with atmosphere and Marc's catchiest riff, it's only matched by the equally addictive chorus. Using a style of melody that also appears on an earlier track, "Quantify Your Soul," but feels so much stronger here, Anne-Emmanuelle's vocals in the chorus feel like a spiraling rush of fire that moves uncontrollably upward, is too heavy to slow down, and will only cease if it can transcend time and reconnect with the ancient gods that once gave it to us.

While Anne-Emmanuelle's style demands perhaps a listener who appreciates a peculiar style, I find that this is inherently part of her appeal as a vocalist, particularly in the context of this album. With subject matters that focus on being caught in a transient form, place, and emotional state, all while being ignored by the masses of functional humans, her voice is ideally imperfect at times, yet with numerous brushes of swirling splendor. She reflects the barely visible, the uncertain, or starving souls, who may be the last hopes "Still holding on / To some old-fashioned beliefs" within a logic-driven society. The music demands someone who creates an obscure and uneasy mystique, and, in this, she succeeds.

Like looking through a murky glass wall at what could have been, but only to turn around and feel lost in the sea of rapidly paced city life and technology, Unseelie's Urban Fantasy reminds us that in all our struggles for greater understanding, so much of our answers could right beside us, if only we would dare to wonder and thus see, the light behind the walls we have symbolically erected. For a self-released debut, Urban Fantasy is easily one of the most interesting sounding atmospheres and gothic releases of the past year.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 13.01.2015 by Music and the written word are two of my passions in life, so I figured, why not combine the two?


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 103 users
13.01.2015 - 19:33
CyberSymphony
Ollie
I've seen this band advertised to me quite alot, definitely checking this out thanks to your review
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14.01.2015 - 05:28
Lionthrone
Thanks for the well-written and thoughtful review. I'm having trouble finding those folk undertones you mentioned but still enjoyed the music. I like the vocals!
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16.01.2015 - 11:38
PocketMetal
The first listen was kinda hit and miss for me, that Kowai album you staff-picked was much better tho. The question is, where the hell do you find all these good female-fronted bands?
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16.01.2015 - 20:44
AnGina--
Dark Phoenix
This is a stunning review; so well-written - I miss reading this kind of reviews (no poorly used sarcastic remarks and a vigorous use of language). Haven't listened to the album yet, as I just discovered this name recently, but after reading this, I will surely give it a try.
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22.01.2015 - 20:52
Jason W.
Razorbliss
Written by PocketMetal on 16.01.2015 at 11:38

The first listen was kinda hit and miss for me, that Kowai album you staff-picked was much better tho. The question is, where the hell do you find all these good female-fronted bands?

I've thought of doing a review for Kowai as well, it's such a great album too There have been some superb self-released albums in the symphonic & gothic metal realm this past year. I definitely don't expect everyone to have the same feelings for albums I do, but if a few of them are shared with you and it moves you, it makes the long search for good music worth it! I found Unseelie by endless searching for new/unsigned gothic bands. I do have a few friends who've mentioned bands to me (Kowai), and of course just following anything related to symphonic & gothic bands is a big help. I'm hoping 2015 continues this new trend of great self-released albums, so if you have any, don't hesitate to share!
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"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
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22.01.2015 - 20:57
Jason W.
Razorbliss
Written by AnGina-- on 16.01.2015 at 20:44

This is a stunning review; so well-written - I miss reading this kind of reviews (no poorly used sarcastic remarks and a vigorous use of language). Haven't listened to the album yet, as I just discovered this name recently, but after reading this, I will surely give it a try.

Thank you so much It's words like this that motivate me to keep writing and searching for more music. Believe me, I fully share your love for well-written reviews, and I've missed them myself in more ways than I can say.
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"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
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