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Unshine - The enigma of immortals 4.5/5

Reviewed: 11-7-08


1. Awen
2. Gathering of the kindred spirits
3. Animal spirit
4. My king
5. Catherine is beloved
6. Luminaries
7. The paradise lost
8. Washer at the ford
9. Forget me not
10. The seer of sights
11. With the silents of the earth

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.




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