Portland’s Unto Others took the heavy music world by storm under their previous moniker, Idle Hands, a few years back with their debut album Mana. The band plays a style of heavy-metal-infused goth rock featuring all the best parts of Ghost, Christian Death, The Sisters of Mercy, and In Solitude; trading darkness and heavy metal blows like a boxer in a prize fight. Returning just 2 years later and on the giant metal label Roadrunner Records, here comes Strength, complete with everything stated earlier but boasting a more fortified vision and with eyes set towards domination of the heavy music scene.

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Vocalist Gabe Franco’s excellent baritone leads the charge, evoking a sound like that of the late Peter Steele of Type O Negative, if he were fronting a band that played with some semblance of urgency. Franco has double duty on Strength as well, being an integral part of the guitar duo with Sebastian Silva. Brandon Hill’s heavy bass work and Colin Vranizan’s battery round out the collective—and the band actually lost a guitarist during their transitional phase, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice, since the guitar work is so damned pristine throughout the nearly 50 minute runtime.

Strength is vibrantly alive, featuring excellent sections that incorporate keyboards and distant spoken vocals, and also more guitar pyrotechnics. It opens with the memorable feedback-draped "Heroin" before chugging along into proper form, allowing Gabe Franco’s powerful vocals to properly soar. This also gives it a darker tone contrasted to less Franco-focused tracks such as "Just a Matter of Time" where Brandon Hill takes root with a powerful bassline that gets louder and more intricate as the song progresses making for a more direct hit to the senses. There is also a heady atmosphere on display on "Summer Lightning", more positive than the rest of the album to this point, that is reinforced as the chorus enters again and again, acting as its own light in the dark.

The band's sound emphasizes their goth side more now, notably on tracks like "When Will God’s Work Be Done" and "No Children Laughing Now". You feel the power of Franco’s vocal style as he drops what has become his signature "Hooah" several times during these tracks, which is not meant to be a joke but merely how he draws up extra emphasis on some tracks, akin to various other frontmen in music who also have this little signature wrinkle, like Dio’s "Foo foo" and Greg Graffin of Bad Religion’s "Ya-Hey". The latter track here hits the same notes albeit a bit more guitar driven with small audio samples dragged into the fray. A little more than halfway through the track, the guitars combine forces and absolutely skyrocket, soon thereafter deviating from one another for simply sublime solo work, creating an otherworldly feel as you explore the aural cosmos.

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"Little Bird" proves that the band doesn’t need to play fast to get their point across. This cut is at a noticeably slower tempo which leans heavily on Franco’s golden voice, showing off his great range and allowing his emotions to be felt throughout. "Hell Is For Children" is a slow build of a track which features the vocals to become angrier and angrier as the song progresses, perhaps as it becomes more and more evident that something is wrong with the aforementioned title here. The song title eventually gets reworked towards the end with the line "Hell is for Hell," giving credence to the suffering brought on by the previous lyrical sections.

Tightened up and refined for a sophomore follow-up, Strength's combination of traditional heavy metal and rock music blends seamlessly together with the goth-tinged backbone of the ‘80s. Gabe Franco is a dual threat on guitar and his crucial vocal performance helps to put this album above other bands that have attempted this style before. The rest of the band’s members fortify the sound by providing the necessary foundation for these sounds to ascend. Refining their dark and heavy music, while keeping an ear towards the past and an eye toward the future, Unto Others have crafted a modern day dark heavy metal masterpiece with Strength.

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Strength released September 24th, 2021 via Roadrunner Records.