Thick. Sludgy. Murky. Angst-ridden. These are all words that come to mind when trying to summarize the basslines that dominate in songs like “I Never Forget,” “Nothing Left to Sell,” “Suffering in Silence,” “Stuck in Your Way” and the title track of The Unbroken’s Human Crown, which was released this past May to the adulation of metal fans around the country. As physical an entity as any of the guitar parts are, the bass is a key linchpin in the dynamic audio aggression found in Human Crown, and anyone who gives the record’s five songs a spin will find out exactly what I mean.
Heavy low-end tones aren’t the only sweet feature in this EP – far from it, in fact. The drums are huge and unforgivingly pressurized in “I Never Forget” and “Suffering in Silence,” both of which could get even the most crowded of arenas moving inside of their instrumental intros. Beats are as important in making a perfect metal cocktail as any other element in the half-melodic faceting of this music is, and for a band like The Unbroken, they’re compelled to spare no effort in making every groove an agent of evocation, much as they do their lyrics and harmonizing riffs here.
Of course, there’s no getting around the crown jewel of this debut effort; its unmatched metal guitars. The arrangement of the riffs in the title track is perhaps the most efficient of any you’ll hear on the record, but there really aren’t any obvious examples of negligent songwriting for me to point out in Human Crown. The Unbroken must have spent some serious time jamming together before they ever entered the studio because these tracks have got a cohesive structure that is more indicative of a progressive rock sound than it is most anything in modern metalcore, post-groove and new era power metal.
I would have started this tracklist off with the title track, but I can also understand why the band decided to stick it in the middle of the EP instead. There’s a lot of buildup to the song’s climactic moment within the composition itself, but when factoring in all of the tension that “Stuck in Your Way” and “Suffering in Silence” bring to the table, it’s like an explosion in the night sky when it finally comes spilling out of the stereo. It’s not an all-out concept record, but I can’t deny the presence of grandiosity in this tracklist (though it’s as positive a strain as there has ever been).
While I’ve never been the biggest metal enthusiast in the room, I can’t help but dig on the riffing that comprises The Unbroken’s virgin EP, and I have a feeling that a lot of other critics are going to share my opinion after they get a look at the five songs on this rebellious new record. Human Crown has a classic sound with a futuristic twist where it matters the most, and even if it isn’t the only metal release drawing mainstream attention away from hard rock this fall, it’s easily one of my personal favorites.