In 2008 the guitarist Mauser left legendary Polish death metal band Vader and released the first UnSun album, The End of Life, featuring his wife Aya on vocals. The mainstream-oriented gothic metal approach to the album was decent at first listen but, like Aya's sweet voice, soon became tiresome. It wasn't a bad album by any means, just a little uninspired. Clinic For Dolls is the second album from UnSun so has the band improved on their debut?
Clinic For Dolls is a continuation of UnSun's light, upbeat sound that was showcased on their debut. The songs are generally fast-paced with the exception of the ballad The Last Tear which is a beautiful keyboard driven song in which Aya's voice, although never the strongest in the gothic metal scene, really shines and evokes the passionate lyrics. A real tear-jerker!
Obviously the main focus of these bands is the singer and Aya is well and truly the focus of UnSun having been placed on the cover for both albums. Whilst it is unarguable that she is a great looking woman and a brilliant figurehead for the band there have been questions raised about her voice. Unfortunately she can't hold a candle to the heavyweight female singers like Simone Simons, Floor Jansen and Tarja Turunen. She has a voice similar to Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation. Again, not quite as strong with as wide a range as the Dutch lady. For all her faults, however, Aya has a pleasant voice that brings a smile to my face. She sounds as if she is truly enjoying what she is doing and the best part is that her voice fits with the upbeat music of UnSun.
UnSun's other main talking point is guitarist Mauser who was criticized in the debut for playing generic gothic metal riffs and not really unleashing the talent that we all know he has from Vader. In Clinic For Dolls he once again seems to be playing 'gothic-metal-by-numbers' with the typical chugging guitar riffs that are a hallmark of the genre. However, he also comes out with some fantastic solos throughout the album. As an aside I'd love to hear the result of what would happen if Mauser and Morten Veland made a gothic metal album together. I reckon that would be phenomenal!
Its great to hear that on their second album UnSun have kept all the good parts from their debut and improved on all the criticisms. I really enjoyed this one. Sure, its still not perfect and in some parts it is quite typical of the genre but its still a good listen that fans of the female-fronted metal style will appreciate, particularly those who don't mind a slightly more mainstream, happy sound.