Review: “Strength” by Unto Others – Gothic Metal in perfection (USA, 2021)
Last Updated on 9. October 2021 by Oliver
Seldom has an album title been better. Unto Others call their second work “Strength” – and it is exactly that: extremely strong!
The band from Portland, Oregon, puts a big exclamation mark with the first track: In “Heroin” the riffs are harder, the lyrics darker, the vocals more agressive than ever. Gabriel Franco, who stood out on the debut with his notorious wolf howl, even lets one or the other growl off the stack that suddenly turns into diabolical laughter.
Now it’s clear why Unto Others – whom I’d previously seen as a Gothic-Rock rather than a Metal act – wanted to embark on a “European Siege” tour in autumn with Death Metallers Arch Enemy, Carcass and Behemoth. It was postponed to 2022 because of the pandemic, but given the severity of the first song, the combination makes perfect sense.
Deeply rooted in the 1980s – but still modern
The follow up “Downtown” is classic Unto Others stuff again. A mid-tempo anthem, the wonderful refrain of which stays in your head for a long time. “Walking around when I’m down, when I’m down, when I’m downtown ..” – there is hardly a more perfect way to express the feeling of loneliness in our modern times.
In any case, Unto Others always manage to arouse a lot of emotions with well-known means. With their style (like the polyphonic, shimmering guitars), their outfit (from flowing curls to leather jackets to huge sunglasses) and the vocals of Gabriel Franco that are filled with pathos but are nevertheless brillant, the band is so deeply rooted in the 1980s that they could almost be mistaken for a parody of this era.
But the five are absolutely serious about what they’re doing. And, strangely enough, their music is – for all its wallowing in the past – at the same time modern and innovative. Is it because of the elaborate arrangements that, for example, lift “When Will Gods Work Be Done” out of the mass of Metal releases? Even with its second creation, I haven’t really gotten on the trail of the Unto Other phenomenon. In any case, their songs give me goosebumps – which in this case is an unmistakable sign that I really like them.
Unto Others: New name but old patterns that work brillant
“No Children Laughing Now” is also an emotional miracle – both musically and lyrically. “I don’t care about anyone, cause no one cares about me” – that is Dark Rock in perfection. And the band even includes their new name in the lyrics – with a twinkle in their eye.
When the excellent debut “Mana” came out, which deservedly ranked 2nd in my annual charts in 2019, they were still called Idle Hands. However, when there were signs of legal disputes with another formation of the same name, they switched to Unto Others. These change did not detract from the unbelievable force of nature of the band. “Destiny” also lives from an irrepressible energy. The riffs, the chorus and the dark lyrics will be remembered for a long time.
After these outstanding first five power songs, the band shifts down a gear with “Little Bird”. Unfortunately, the semi-ballad is the first piece, which can’t quite convince me. It’s also a shame that it ends a bit carelessly with a fade-out. But who knows: Maybe that’s an ironic allusion to the Eighties, when this stylistic device enjoyed unfortunate popularity with producers. The following “Why” is also rather average for Unto Others standards – which is, however, still a lot better than most Metal releases.
Five outstanding songs at the end
But after this little slack, the band really cranks it up again and adds another five outstanding songs to the end of the album. Particularly noteworthy: “Hell Is For Children”. The strange title is easy to explain if you take a closer look at the lyrics. This is about child abuse and presented so impressively, musically and vocally, that the chills run down your spine. As I said before, the band is absolutely serious about their music and approaches this difficult subject in a perfectly appropriate way.
“Summer Lightning” afterwards provides the much-needed relaxation after the emotional par-force ride with lighter and melancholic undertones. “Instinct” on the other hand comes up with a tricky arrangement that I honestly have never heard in this form. Unto Others are simply unique in today’s music scene! The title and closing track “Strength” summarizes – in the truest sense of the word – all the strengths of the band and comes up with a rousing finale.
One of the highlights of the music year
After 46 incredibly intense minutes that flew by, I have to say that Unto Others have kept exactly what they promised with their album title: “Strength” is a damn strong piece of Gothic Metal and one of the best works in this year of music, which was not poor in highlights anyway.
The only wish that remains unfulfilled for me: to see the band live on stage. I’ll have to wait a year for that. The dates for the “European Siege” tour with Arch Enemy, Carcass and Behemoth have been postponed to October 2022. Unto Others will come to Germany five times, including Düsseldorf.
Here are the tour dates:
14.10.2022: Berlin, Columbiahalle
26.10.2022: Frankfurt, Jahrhunderthalle
28.10.2022: Munich, Zenith
29.10.2022: Düsseldorf, Mitsubishi Electric Halle
30.10.2022: Hamburg, edel-optics.de Arena
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ (11 out of 12 points)
Album: Unto Others – Strength (2021)
Running time: 46:26 Min.
Label: Roadrunner Records
Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl
- Heroin 3:41
- Downtown 3:15
- When Will Gods Work Be Done 4:07
- No Children Laughing Now 3:43
- Destiny 3:41
- Little Bird 3:52
- Why 2:46
- Just A Matter Of Time 3:56
- Hell Is For Children 4:53
- Summer Lightning 4:44
- Instinct 3:44
- Strength 4:00
Unto Others on the web: