It’s not the fault of the band in any way, but initially I felt a little misled by The Unity. The record/promotion company are really pushing the ‘two members of Gamma Ray’ angle, calling the band Power Metal and putting the track ‘No Hero’ out there as the first single – a double-kick driven, speedy track full of Helloween/Edguy attitude and a catchy chorus. So I jumped at the chance to review it. Then, upon playing the rest of the album I was jerked back through time to how I felt as a kid trying to make pocket money stretch as far as possible, saving up for one LP a month. I went right back to when I bought TNT’s “Tell No Tales” after hearing the title track, Rough Cutt’s “Wants You” having only heard ‘Let ’em Talk’ and House Of Lords’ “Sahara” after being blown away by ‘Kiss Of Fire’ only to get home, hear the rest of each album and be greeted by well performed, but essentially, melodic rock.
I share this personal memory only because if anyone out there is expecting The Unity to sound like Gamma Ray is initially going to be disappointed. That is unless they are a fan of very well executed Melodic Rock/Metal and are familiar with German Melodic Metal band Love.Might.Kill (of which five sixths of the band were members)…and of course if you heard The Unity’s debut. ‘Last Betrayal’, ‘Children Of The Light’ and the aforementioned ‘No Hero’ are the only tracks that the band really allow to gain a bit of speed, the rest of the album nestles itself somewhere around Edguy’s more melodic tracks, Pretty Maids and Stryper.
But this is where preconceptions trip you up, because of what I was expecting it took a while to get my head around the highly polished, super-catchy Melodic Metal that the band exude. The vocals have a hard edge when when needed and a softer layered approach, very much like Ronnie Atkins has always done so well in Pretty Maids, the songs are arranged intelligently with the emphasis very much on melody and instant impact. There’s a positive vibe to each song both lyrically and musically that gives the whole album an uplifting feel. At times the whole thing gets a little too melodic and catchy for me personally, but that is just personal preference and if I had been expecting a Melodic Rock record, the areas where the band ramp up into Power Metal would feel like a bonus rather than how I hoped the whole album would be.
The final point I wanted to say brings me back to another reason for sharing my thoughts on those 80’s albums I mentioned earlier. Fact is, I still own all three albums – not just because I still like the three tracks I bought them for, but because as time went by I grew to appreciate and enjoy other parts of those albums and I’m sure that will be the case with “Rise”.
(7/10 Andy Barker)