|Review: Her Whisper - The Great Unifier|
|The Great Unifier|
Label: STF Records
Year released: 2008
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: December 5, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
for:The Great Unifier
Rated 4/5 (80%) (16 Votes)
The chimerical mixing of Melodic Death and Power Metal is not one that many bands have explored, and maybe that is a good thing, as too much of a good concept will inevitably lead to stale imitations and shallow, lifeless husks reaping the sweets of what was once something fresh and fun and new. However, I cannot help but wish more bands did it anyway. Perhaps we would be able to draw from the well of musical maladies something else as insightful and darkly interesting as Her Whisper's 2008 effort The Great Unifier.
This album is very unfriendly to those who may try to dig into it. It is rather monotonous in character and not very memorable at first – every song flows into the next, creating an endless stream of the grey, blocky riffs that comprise its guitar-led melodic base. The vocals are a thick-throated sort of melodic shouting, spliced here and there for gangland shouting and a droll robotic drone that fits with the rainy atmosphere. The songs are all around the three to five minute mark, all enshrouded in subtly epic and gloomy melodies that I am sure many people will not catch if they go into this without any expectations.
See, I don't think most people would like this in general. It's just a damned unfriendly, cold album, with nothing really inviting or amiable about it. It is an album that stands on a high pedestal from the start. Its entire concept is as such – this is an album that feels like a George Orwell novel or maybe a chapter of V for Vendetta. It is sleek, ambiguously motivated and incredibly distant from any kind of emotional or sentimental leaning. It has an absence of feeling, which is something I would normally dock it for, but unlike many bands, it is supposed to be like that. You never get any sense that the band is incompetent at writing emotionally resonating music, because they are not. On The Great Unifier, they masterfully convey a hopeless, bleak atmosphere, drenching it in somber keys and wailing vocals, allowing for no escape from its fortress of relentless melancholia. There will even be times when you want to turn this off, as the harshness of this album's no-holds-barred, stodgy approach to straight-ahead depressive bleakness does get a bit much to bear, but that is only in the light of playing it too much.
Indeed, this should not be played constantly. It should be a periodic thing, played in sparse amounts, allowing its beautiful barren darkness to unfold slowly. The first few songs are futuristically charged, with slick riffs and moaning, depraved wails from the vocal front – reminiscent in a way of Tad Morose if they were making music in the Blade Runner universe. There are gloomier, reflective pieces like the wonderfully despairing "Fiend Angelical" and the towering "Emperor of Sorrow." "Their Finest Hour" is haunting and oblique, a chilling portrait of everything this album has to offer, and the excellent "Elegy of a Dying Rose" is under four minutes, yet it packs as much complexity and dynamic in its winding catacomb of distortion and despair as any given prog metal band puts into a nine minute song.
While this album's unflinching dedication to morose rudeness does make the album a bit tiring at times, it never ceases to be well written, compelling and incredibly dark music. Her Whisper have created a Power Metal album that is intense, heavy and mature, and those who want to witness something fresh and new are well advised to check out The Great Unifier. What is the great unifier? I would hope it is creative music like this.
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