Sunday, July 6, 2014

Clinic for Dolls | UnSun

In 2010, the up-and-coming Polish band UnSun released their sophomore album, Clinic for Dolls. Despite being a gothic metal band and naturally having a darker sound to their music, Clinic for Dolls brings a bit of a dreamier side of the genre with its synths and swaying melodies.

The albums begins slowly and crescendos with the epic intro of "The Lost Way." Footsteps and echoy noises can be heard before a piano line comes in, but then guitars add in for a few measures, making sure we're ready for what's coming - because once the full instrumentation begins, this song freaking EXPLODES. The guitars are driven by absolutely beautiful synths, already displaying UnSun's ability to be dreamy and heavy at the same time. I always think of shattering glass when I hear it. With an intro like that, though, it's kind of hard to top, and it's my favorite part of the song even though the rest of it is still full of energy. After the first chorus, there's a fun guitar solo that I'm sure everyone will appreciate, but towards the end, the song slows down to the very beginning's tempo with piano and light percussion. Then the song picks up again, mimicking the awesome build at the beginning.

One thing that everyone will notice right away is lead singer Aya Stefanowicz's one-of-a-kind voice. Her voice has a very thick Polish accent and I oftentimes have no idea what she's saying, but these unique vocals are part of what I enjoy most from the band. Her accent is pretty and sets her apart from other vocalists, thus setting UnSun apart from other bands. I like it.

The title track comes next, and it's quite catchy. The verses are urgent, but the chorus is flowy and is undoubtedly my favorite part. But the next couple of tracks are probably my favorites from Clinic for Dolls. "Time" is one of the pretties songs on the album - and no, it's not a ballad. This track brings a positive message about things getting better and how nature can mimic our sorrows. The chorus is beautiful, the middle eight is kind of creepy, and the verses are just flat-out cool. It's already a great song on an instrumental and vocal scale, but I also really love the lyrical composition - "And the rain keeps falling outside as if crying on our behalf/ And the wind keeps howling outside for the eternal soul that I have."

My other favorite is "Mockers," which is such an attention-grabber; it's so heavy! The guitar riffs in the verses are so intense and harsh with their staccato and Aya emotionally sings over them, as though wrapping the whole song together. The chorus is great too, but like I said, those verses really do the trick for me. I honestly enjoyed the general sound so much that it took me a while before I even glanced at the lyrics (to understand Aya's pretty accent!), and some lines definitely caught my attention: "The bloodthirsty band creeps out of the murk/ The gun of sharp words on the verge of the dark/ to finish off our tainted hearts/ all that we saved torn apart."

"Not Enough" follows at track five. The verses really groove on both a vocal and instrumental level while the chorus flows in a smoother manner. But then things change up for the album's ballad, "The Last Tear." Don't get me wrong, "The Last Tear" has a pretty vocal line, good lyrics, and is led by piano, but it just doesn't do much for me on a personal level.

In the case of "Home," the chorus is great, as all UnSun's choruses are, but the strings and general breakdown after the first chorus probably catch my attention the most, along with the middle eight. Even though "Not Enough," "The Last Tear," and "Home" have some good qualities, they just don't push the envelope for me; they don't stand out too much. But the eighth song, "I Ceased," managed leave a better impression on me. It opens with Aya and a piano but it quickly gets heavier - and that chorus, oh my! It's quite catchy as Aya lightly sings "One word and a word too much/ was spoken between us tonight." I love that vocal line! After the middle it, the song strips back down to just piano and Aya for a verse (which sounds wonderful) before picking up and ending.

The last two songs, "A Single Touch" and "Why," unfortunately don't leave the biggest impression on me, even though I love the chorus of "A Single Touch" as well as the lyrics of "Why." But, as I've implied before with songs like "Not Enough," "The Last Tear," and " and "Home," that's UnSun's biggest flaw, and perhaps only flaw: Some songs don't have enough variety to really stand out and make me love them.

But, Clinic for Dolls is definitely a solid album overall. Their lyrics have a lot of imagery, Aya has a unique voice, and I love their general sound. I enjoyed every song, but the only issue is that hardly any of the songs are too wildly different from one another. The lack of diversity is by far their weakest point. I really hope they try branching out more for the next album because this band has so much potential. Clinic for Dolls was a decent album, I just think UnSun can be better. I'm eager to hear whatever new material they end up releasing.

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