Music

The Unguided: Hell Frost

Driven to be better than what his former band was forced to become, ex-Sonic Syndicate vocalist Richard Sjunnesson has finally created what he had envisioned all along.


The Unguided

Hell Frost

Label: Despotz
US Release Date: 2011-11-30
UK Release Date: 2011-12-13
Website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Redemption and second chances don't come easily in the music industry, especially in more recent years when one-hit wonders and single-release artists are becoming more prevalent than ever before. It becomes even more difficult when artists need to use new names or form new bands in order to find that redemption. Such was the path for vocalist Richard Sjunnesson after his departure from modern melodic death metal group Sonic Syndicate. Disgusted by the group's changed sound -- a change that was forced on them by Nuclear Blast Records, no less -- and wanting to return to his roots, Sjunnesson decided to form his own group that would take on Sonic Syndicate's older style and let it grow naturally. The resulting group became known as the Unguided, and with this group, Sjunnesson definitely achieved his goal.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Sjunnesson relied on many familiar faces to bring the Unguided into existence. For production of the group's demos, the Nightmareland EP, and the debut album Hell Frost, producer Jonas Kjellgren, who is also the rhythm guitarist for Scar Symmetry, and his the Abyss studios were chosen, mirroring the choices for Sonic Syndicate's latest three albums. Artwork for both Nightmareland and Hell Frost, as well as the singles pressed from Hell Frost, was done by either Gustavo Sazes, who designed the cover for Sonic Syndicate's Burn This City EP, or Jose Aranguren, the artist behind the visuals for Sonic Syndicate's debut Eden Fire.

The remaining lineup outside of Sjunnesson is full of pleasant surprises. Richard recruited both his brother Roger, guitarist for Sonic Syndicate, and current Sonic Syndicate drummer John Bengtsson to play the same instruments in the Unguided. He even brought fellow ex-Sonic Syndicate vocalist Roland Johansson into the fold on clean vocals and guitar, recreating the vocal tandem that helped Sonic Syndicate rise to popularity in the first place.

The Unguided plays the same style of modern melodic death metal as their predecessor, but there are some subtle twists. Hell Frost has a much rougher feel to it overall, with the production sounding not quite as polished, and the mixing a bit more raw. This creates a more aggressive tone in the recording, helped by the heavier compositions and Richard's ferocious screaming vocals. The musicianship is also leagues above almost everything Sonic Syndicate ever composed, with a great deal more technicality and experimentation. The songs aren't formulaic, despite some structural similarities, and the lyrics are much more thought-provoking and intelligent. Hell Frost is the realization of the potential possessed by the musicians involved.

If you are one of the many left disappointed or outraged by Sonic Syndicate's last album, We Rule the Night, then Hell Frost is exactly what you need in order to cleanse your palette. Delivering on the promise of excellent modern melodic death metal that their former band promised and often came close to creating, the Unguided have made more progress in one album than Sonic Syndicate did with their last three. Richard Sjunnesson's dream has finally been made into reality -- a proficient melodic death metal band, with newer stylistic tendencies and forward-thinking ideas that will help grow the genre and set a high standard for quality going forward.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.

Music

Country Westerns Bask in an Unparalleled Sound and Energy on Their Debut

Country Westerns are intent on rejecting assumptions about a band from Nashville while basking in an unparalleled sound and energy.

Film

Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.

Music

The Charlatans' 'Between 10th and 11th' Gets a Deluxe Edition

Not even a "deluxe" version of Between 10th and 11th from the Charlatans can quite set the record straight about the maligned-but-brilliant 1992 sophomore album.

Reviews

'High Cotton' Is Culturally Astute and Progressive

Kristie Robin Johnson's collection of essays in High Cotton dismantle linear thinking with shrewdness and empathy.

Reviews

Lianne La Havas Is Reborn After a Long Layoff

British soul artist Lianne La Havas rediscovers herself on her self-titled new album. It's a mesmerizing mix of spirituality and sensuality.

Reviews

PC Nackt Deconstructs the Classics with 'Plunderphonia'

PC Nackt kicks off a unique series of recordings dedicated to creating new music by "plundering" unexpected historical sources such as classical piano pieces or chamber orchestra music.

Music

Counterbalance 24: The Doors - 'The Doors'

Before you slip into unconsciousness, Counterbalance has put together a few thoughts on the Doors' 1967 debut album. It's number 24 on the Big List.

Reading Pandemics

Parable Pandemics: Octavia E. Butler and Racialized Labor

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, informed by a deep understanding of the intersectionality of dying ecologies, disease, and structural racism, exposes the ways capitalism's insatiable hunger for profit eclipses humanitarian responses to pandemics.

Television

'Tiger King' and the Post-Truth Culture War

Tiger King -- released during and dominating the streaming-in-lockdown era -- exemplifies in real-time the feedback loop between entertainment and ideology.

Music

GOD's 'God IV - Revelation' Is a Towering Feat of Theologically-Tinged Prog Metal (album stream)

GOD's God IV - Revelation is beautiful and brutal in equal measure. It's a masterful series of compositions. Hear it in full today before tomorrow's release.

Books

Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.