Courtesy: Spartan Records
North Carolina-based rock act Unifier recently released its latest EP Gutted. The five-track disc, released via independent label Spartan Records, offers audiences eighteen minutes of music that emo fans and of the noise rock genre will assuredly appreciate. They will appreciate the record both for its musical side and its deep lyrical content which, as front man/guitarist Aslan Freeman notes on the band’s Facebook page, is meant to reflect the band’s re-invention both collectively and as individuals. It is one of those listens that rather than instantly grabbing listeners’ ears, will instead grow on audiences with each listen. Freeman goes on to note that he and his band mates–Luke Rayson (bass, vocals), and Mike Kane (drums)–wanted to go in a “heavier and darker direction” as part of that re-invention. And in listening to each of the EP’s five tracks, it definitely did that, delving into the emotions felt with some not so happy situations. Simply put, the material included on this record is quite heavy in its own way both musically and lyrically. So it is not one of those records that audiences can just pop in and take in any time. It is one of those pieces that calls for listeners to be in a certain mindset if they are to fully comprehend and appreciate it. This is obvious right from the disc’s opener ‘Fall.’ ‘Break,’ the disc’s second song makes this just as clear as does its closing number ‘Forget.’ ‘Mend’ and ‘Sink’ each offer their own interest as part of the disc’s whole, too. All five songs taken together show that Gutted lives up to everything that Unifier’s members have noted of their new creation. That in mind, the depth and heaviness presented through the course of this record proves it to be a work that both the band’s original fans and those not so familiar with the band’s music alike will appreciate more with each listen.
Unifier’s new EP Gutted is an aptly titled release from the North Carolina-based band. The five tracks and approximately eighteen minutes that make up this new record successfully echo the sentiment of front man Aslan Freeman in regards to the emotions that it is meant to evoke. This is evident right from the disc’s opener ‘Fall.’ Musically speaking, it creates a certain, raw emotion among listeners right from its opening moments. The way that it builds to a climax before pulling back in those opening moments shows a real attention to detail and appreciation for the impact of dynamics in music. This is especially true as Freeman sings over his own reserved guitar line and Mike Lane’s time keeping, “It’s been wrong all along/throw them out/The thoughts you knew then/Wasted time/the place that you’d been/Changing minds and clothes again.” Freeman seems to go on to admit in the song’s closing lines that the uncertainties felt by the song’s subject are on him. At least that is this critic’s interpretation. That can be inferred as he sings in those closing lines, “Just a little less talk and a little more action/Now that you never walk/The blame has been all mine.” He even seems to express his own uncertainties about the presented situation as he sings in the song’s chorus, “Standing in the back/And watching as you take the fall/So what/A better way to say that I just wanna write you off.” Like so many songwriters across the genres out there, Freeman writes seemingly in metaphors. So even if these interpretations are incorrect, the sheer depth of Freeman’s writing in this case shows why it was such a wise choice as an addition to the record.
The raw, powerful emotion generated by the combination of ‘Fall’s’ music and lyrics makes clear why this song was chosen as one of the songs to be included on Unifier’s new EP. They show just as much why the song was chosen to open the EP. ‘Break’ the EP’s second track proves in its own way to be just as worthy an addition to Gutted. Musically speaking, this song could be argued to be the disc’s best song. It is the closest that the band comes to a radio ready single on the record. That is thanks to its relatively catchy hooks and choruses. Its thought-provoking lyrical content will have listeners talking just as much as Freeman sings, “Failed enough/I know it’s all for fun/Just a little closer/You know I’ll do anything/I’m ready to break/I keep holding on at times I should walk away/I can’t ask you to stay/But I’ll keep holding on/I’m holding on for/So much for right now/If I come down/Do you need doubt from everyone/Show up and get loud/Cause I’ll do anything.” Again, Freeman comes across as writing in metaphors again here. But the first inclination is that the song is rooted in relationship issues. That thought is raised as he writes, “I keep holding on at times I should walk away/I can’t ask you to stay/But I’ll keep holding on.” The tension in Freeman’s voice as he sings makes the song’s emotion all the stronger and in turn makes even stronger the argument in regards to the song’s lyrical topic. Regardless of the topic, one thing can once again be agreed upon in listening to the song’s lyrical and musical side: the depth of both its lyrical and musical side together makes clear why this song is another good addition to Unifier’s new EP and why it makes Gutted in whole a record that any of the band’s fans new and old alike will enjoy.
‘Break’ is a definite contender to represent Unifier on the band’s new EP. That is because of the depth of both its musical and lyrical content. The band members’ talents considered alongside the song’s thought-provoking lyrics will have audiences talking in the best way possible. It isn’t the disc’s only high point, either. ‘Forget,’ the disc’s closer, is just as much a candidate for a representative single, too. That is obvious right from the song’s first thirty seconds. Freeman, Rayson, and Kane exhibit what this critic feels to be direct influences from Jimmy Eat World in this case. Because of that influence, Unifier is certain to hold audiences’ ears not just through the song’s first thirty seconds but straight through its near four-minute run time. The song’s musical side managing to hold listeners’ ears, its lyrics will most certainly engage audiences just as much. This song perhaps more so than any of the EP’s others, comes across as echoing the disc’s title and the band’s explanation behind the title. Freeman sings in this song, “Tear it all up/Everything/You’re not a one in ten/You never were/You’ve never been/Can you live with it/They won’t call you anything/Is that what you intended/Never wrong, never right/Blending in/Are you fitting in?” Freeman comes across as addressing someone here. Maybe a former band mate or friend, considering the language and references used throughout the song. Or of course he could simply be writing in metaphors yet again, using the live performance imagery to get across another message. Once again, here is an example of Freeman’s attention to detail and that of his band mates, too. Considering the lyrical content that makes up most songs on mainstream radio and those songs’ musical side, a comparison of those songs to this composition and its possible lyrical message proves without doubt why this song is another positive addition to Gutted. It shows, too why this song along with the disc’s other songs makes Gutted in whole yet another solid work from Unifier.
‘Forget,’ ‘Break,’ and ‘Fall’ are each clear examples of how much Unifier has to offer audiences on its new EP. Each song exhibits quite the depth both musically and lyrically. The disc’s remaining songs–‘Mend’ and ‘Sink’–each exhibit their own value to Gutted, too. All five songs taken fully into consideration, they show collectively and clearly that while it may not be as well-known as certain other bands of its ilk, it still proves itself a band worth the listen with a new record worth at least one listen. Gutted is available now and can be ordered direct from Spartan Records’ official online store at http://spartanrecords.limitedrun.com/products/546661-unifier-gutted-ep. More information on Gutted is available online now along with all of the latest updates from the band at:
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