Written by: AP on 12/11/2011 19:18:32

It is true that Finland rarely spits out new bands that are strong enough to make noise outside of its borders. The new Finnish bands that we hear about are usually not new at all, a prime example being Unkind, whose recent signing with Relapse Records brought them into the international spotlight for the first time despite having four albums and a number of split 7-inch vinyls to their name. "Harhakuvat", which translates to "Illusions", is the band's fifth full-length album, and if anything, it is evidence of the band's vast experience in writing mature and accomplished hardcore.

As the opening salvo of the title track suggests, Unkind have their roots deeply embedded in 80s d-beat and crust punk, fusing the influential sound of Discharge with dark, melodic elements reminiscent of Wolfbrigade and Tragedy. That is not to say that the scope here is exclusively retrospective, nor is it merely focused on speed and volume as influence from the two genres could suggest. Songs like "Kaivannot" (meaning "Excavations"), "Ylpeä Perhe" (which translates to "Proud Family"), "Johtajat Ja Uhrit" (translating to "Leaders and Victims") lend the dirge and pummel some extra texture and depth with subtle horns and strings, acoustic passages, speech samples, and meandering sludge and post-metal adventures that evoke a sense of dark forbearing and bleakness that is similar to Neurosis circa "Pain of Mind", as well as their former neighbors across the Baltic sea, Burst.

Although the production is crisp and accessible, it never feels like Unkind are compromising the DIY ethics of these very underground movements. There is a huge dose of filth and aggression resonating from the songs, due in part to the prominence of Marko Heikura's bass lines in the mix, and in part his grueling shared vocals with guitarist Tommi Mutka. This also means that the guitar work sounds somewhat nondescript most of the time, albeit contributing an equally crucial element to Unkind's sound. These are not riffs per se, but companions to the emotive vocal performances and building blocks to the brooding atmosphere across the songs.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the brilliant album closer "Koulutettu Epäonnistumaan" (which means "Trained to Fail"), the most expansive and melodic song on offer. Its two precedents, "Läsnä" (in English: "The Presence of") and "Tämä Päivä" (which translates to "This Day"), the former an instrumental piece featuring strange dissonance and little else; the latter a furious rager reminiscent of Converge, offer fewer rewards, however, and "Harhakuvat" might have benefitted from their omission altogether. Still, if you have an interest in d-beat and crust punk and love the passion and emotion of hardcore, this album is likely to perform well in your book.

Download: Kaivannot, Laumasielut, Johtajat Ja Uhrit, Koulutettu Epäonnistumaan
For the fans of: Alpinist, Discharge, Burst, Tragedy
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.08.2011
Relapse Records

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