The Unravelling – Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision

The Unravelling - Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision

It is the ultimate irony with industrial music: Artists will use the sounds and timbres of the modern world as a means to ultimately condemn and criticize it. So it is, at least, or The Unravelling. Theirs is a somewhat tragic story that lends weight to their latest album. Their debut, 13 Arcane Hymns dropped a few years ago, and reception was warm. It looked like The Unravelling were on the cusp of some success when a bout of cancer in vocalist Steve Moore forced the group to go on hold.

It’s sobering to think about the way life can hinder and even ruin someone’s potential to express their art, and makes it all the more triumphant that The Unravelling finally came back together to release a follow-up. Even if you weren’t aware of the album’s backstory, I think you could pick up on the strain and tension in the music. Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision carries tension about its neck like an albatross. This is a work where it’s clear the two musicians threw all of themselves into it. The oppressive textures and dystopian atmosphere aren’t exactly new to industrial rock, but The Unravelling‘s passionate attention to focus makes the album work.

I think it’s really interesting that The Unravelling are a duo. Barring the fact that it’s rare to see two people making rock or metal on their own, the music here is one of the few cases where I can approach a band , without having known much of them beforehand, and hear individual personalities clearly at work. Steve Moore’s vocals run the spectrum from quiet and brooding, to scathing and theatrical, and widely pessimistic throughout. Where Moore is direct and visceral with his anger, multi-instrumentalist Gustavo De Beauville takes a more reserved route to the same ends. For an album hanging somewhere in the liminal space between Tool and Nine Inch Nails, The Unravelling‘s instrumentation remains aloof throughout. Even when they’re getting to their heaviest and angriest (see: “Master Drone”) Gustavo’s futuristic guitarwork and industrial percussion sounds meticulous and cautious. Combined with Steve’s brooding aggression, The Unravelling make a dynamic pair, and the complimentary differences between the two account for a lot of the album’s greatest successes.

Gustavo De Beauville’s careful arrangement is quite possibly the best thing about The Unravelling. There’s nothing in the way of showy musicianship here, though I get the feeling the music would have been worse off if there were. Instead, the talent is apparent in the way the sounds come together. Most impressive of all is De Beauville’s drum programming, which goes to great lengths to exploit the opportunities of electronic drums compared to the live alternative. As cold and dystopian as The Unravelling‘s direction obviously is, there’s surprisingly an organic warmth to the production that’s immediately pleasing to the ears. Very seldom has a band nailed such a warm sound in the digital age, and it’s all the more seldom to hear that warmth in a genre normally will seem to negate it.

The Unravelling

Like Trent Reznor, I get the sense that Steve Moore is naturally a softer singer, but has way too many things to be pissed about to stay quiet for long. Most, if not all of the tracks on Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision showcase a range of his expression, ranging from the brooding to the fierce and maniacal. Screams aren’t beyond his repartee either, though they’re not always used to the best effect. As a frontman, Moore is always best when he sticks to being melodic. Not only is his voice arguably better suited for the melodic stuff; it offers a better contrast to the mechanical, texture-based instrumentation. When The Unravelling pair their instrumental heft with strong melodic writing, there’s magic to behold. “The Hydra’s Heart”, “Lucky Me” and “No One’s Song” all stand out for that reason. The effect is a lot less palpable when Moore veers for the edgier side of his vocal palate. His atonal croak leaves me dry; it doesn’t do anything the instrumentation didn’t already accomplish.

While I’m still not convinced by every facet of their sound, it’s plainly visible that The Unravelling feel their art as hard as they play it. While personal hardship may have snubbed their original potential for success, Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision may very well be proof that second chances can happen, and could be the ticket they need for greater things in the future.

Tracklist:

1. The Hydra’s Heart 04:52
2. Lucky Me 03:32
3. Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision 03:40
4. Out of the Depths 04:48
5. The Fearless Seed 04:38
6. Enough is Enough 02:48
7. Master Drone 05:37
8. No One’s Song 03:00
9. Revolt 04:37
10. We Have No Problems 04:19

Links:

http://theunravellingband.com

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