Unto Others first captured the attention of the metal world with their debut album, Mana, in 2019, while under the name Idle Hands. Their gothic approach to metal was refreshing at the time, and continues to be to this day. Now their follow up album, Strength, is looming, can they repeat the trick and hold onto their acclaim or will the charm wear off?
To discuss Unto Others core sound, it’s easiest- in my view- to compare them to gothy hardcore mob Twitching Tongues. Both have chunky metallic riffing, and a deep vocal style reminiscent of Type O Negative. What Unto Others brings that sets them apart from TT is reverb heavy, clean guitar lines torn straight from the early goth and post-punk play book. As a result, it’s less riff focussed, but this is by no means a bad thing, strong melodies and interesting textures more than cover the potential shortfall.
Now we’ve explained what the album actually sounds like, I can start oozing all over the page about how brilliant everything is because bloody hell this album is great. The song writing is top notch all across the board. For the more metallically inclined, When Will Gods Work Be Done is an absolute joy. Towards the end of the track, we get a harmonised guitar line Iron Maiden would kill before, before swinging straight into a muscular, stomping breakdown, and to top all that off we get a proper double bass beat on the drums underpinning some shredding, just to make sure you know Unto Others are serious about their connection to heavy music. If you’re more into the goth side of things, Little Bird is a soaring gothic ballad carried by an excellent vocal performance. It’s theatrical and touching in a lot of ways, one of the best ballads of the year so far.
It is always a reasonable concern when it comes to genre hybrid records like this, that you’ll end up with songs that are structured as “here’s a metal part, now here’s a goth part, another metal part” and so on, rather than genuinely melding the two styles. While there are parts on this album you can point at as just being straight forward metal parts, and straight forward goth parts, almost every song has a part where the two worlds collide. It never feels forced, everything happens to sort the songs. If a chorus needs a bit more instrumental heft to really soar the chunky guitars come in, if a bridge needs some additional texture a jangly guitar line slides in, but if that’s not the case Unto Others know to leave well enough alone. It’s okay for there to be straight goth parts and straight metal parts when they’re this good.
A last little touch I want to highlight is how harsh vocals are used to colour these tracks. Sure, when things get fully metal we get some lovely barks, but they’re also occasionally used over cleaner parts. No Children Laughing Now is the perfect example- as well as having another brilliant section of Maiden-esque harmonised guitars, the first line of the second verse is exactly the same as the first verse, but the vocalist leans into the final word turning it into a bark. It’s just little things like this that really get my brain tingling.
Strength is a brilliant record. Unto Others have the potential to be massive if they can keep up this level of quality, they’re accessible, creative, exciting and genuinely brilliant. They’re the sort of band that the whole metal scene could be proud of, and while it’s your own choice what you choose to support, I think we’d all be stupid not to support this band and not give them the chance to be standard bearers for our scene. Get your ears around this as soon as possible.
Strength is out September 24th 2021 via Roadrunner Records and can be purchased here.