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Unfold Spin Gold On “Honor The Traitors”

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Yesterday, the National Basketball Association opened up its teams for media availability for the upcoming season. Given that, along with the related NFL-related controversy in America, I’ve had sports on the brain. I’ve also been listening to the Banshee O Beast, the new album from Swiss post-metal act Unfold. As chance would have it, there’s a throughline between the two.

Let me explain.

One of worst parts of professional sports is the inevitability of injury. No matter how well a player prepares, and no matter how many rules are put in place, injuries are going to happen. All it takes is one mistimed jump, or the weight of your body not quite lining up with the rest of your leg, or a pitch veering off target and directly into your teeth. It’s the harshest reality of athletics. When you push your body to the limit in competition, sometimes your body breaks.

Unless you’re a real dick, no one wants players to get hurt. It’s a universally shitty situation. Still, because injuries are unavoidable, it behooves sports fans to find a way to cope with them. For example, in team sports the sudden absence of a key player forces the rest of the team to adapt and change their strategy to fit their new personal. Even if this doesn’t work out in the team’s favor, this provides fans with a deeper appreciation of what makes the team tick, and how a change in their chemistry can have a ripple down effect. Sometimes changes in personale can have a surprisingly positive effect.

Unfold’s singer, Danek, is currently sidelined due to concerns about his vocal health. This is a bummer, especially considering that the band’s relatively infrequent release schedule (Banshee O Beast is their first album since 2011) means that we may not hear him back with the band on record for quite some time. Not to worry however, as his temporary replacement, Louis Jucker of Coilguns, brings out a vastly different side of Unfold. Jucker himself is much more of a punk singer than Danek and on “Honor The Traitors”, the record’s opening track which you can stream below, he puts that genre’s immediacy to good use.

Underneath the brittle hiss of distortion, Jucker alternates between full-throated yells and spoken words that barely hide their menace. The rest of Unfold change their playbook in a way that complements this change in approach, moving on much lighter feet and with up front aggression. Compared to 2011’s Cosmogon, “Honor The Traitors” feels whittled down, sharpening their hammer-blow heaviness into a pointed shiv to the ribcage.

Fans of Unfold’s older, slower material still have plenty to look forward to on Banshee O Beast. Even though their new approach is closer to the early 2000s post-hardcore scene that birthed the band in the 1990s, Unfold’s highest highs still rely on a wide-open, mid-paced riff style that will satisfy anyone looking for the melodic post-metal of Cosmogon. Danek’s health concerns are nothing to smile about, but Unfold have found a way to twist their silver lining into pure gold.

Beast O Banshee is out on October 13th via Division. Follow Unfold on Facebook.

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