Review: “Artificial Void” by Unprocessed

Hessan Germany’s Unprocessed have a reputation as being a live favourite. Their Progressive Tech-Metal sound has been a soundtrack since 2014 and with this, their second album for SPV imprint label Long Branch Records, it’s time for the quintet to step up once more to a new level as they did with previous outing “Convenant”. The band feature a trio of guitarists masterminded by vocalist guitarist Manuel Gardner Fernandes with drummer Leon Pfeifer, bassist David Levy alongside the remaining axe  welding duo of Christopher Talosi and Christoph Schultz.

What we could only describe as the sound of a digitisation of a beast being spawned, “Prototype” roars into live with an opening burst of high velocity DJent fuelled energy before slowing to a menacing groove of almost spoken word from Fernandes that has a haunting touch before stepping back into some more thunderous riffage and his more traditional unclean barked vocal stylings. The guitar work has more than a hint of a Periphery influence, but that’s often a challenge such they are a dominant force in the scene. As with the best of the genre, “Prototype” crams in a lot and cycles in waves. The programmed opening of title track “Artificial Void” adds a sense of science fiction and dramatic effect for 90 seconds or so before the guitars and drums come in. Improved clean vocals from Fernandes see him take in Matt Holt of Nothingface in the stylings with a glorious haunting undertone quality. May he rest in peace. There is a tranquillity that underlays the rise and fall of the tune which is just magical. Talking about a dark future and accompanied by the sounds of water washing over something “Ruins” comes to life with some melodic progressive guitar work that gives a funky, soulful vibe to what is a dark tale. The synth underpinning gives the track Kraftwerk quality in places but fortunately it’s not the dominant sound. Stepping up the aggression “Fear” enters the arena with the Unprocessed’s trademark stuccato DJent riffage before it falls away to a more melodic part for the verse. The cycle continues over the course of the song with a melodic synth break before the final verse. The accented vocals are more apparent during the slower sections a Fernandes sings in English with that German time behind it.

“Abandoned” brings back the digitisation behind the introduction guitar work and it sounds like someone digging a hole and throwing loose sand and stone to one side. The funky, soulful riffs of that section step into some more aggressive tones and when the uncleans hit, they’re brutal and uncompromising as well as being slightly out of place against the more melodic progressive chord structures. An epic sweeping movement brings in “House of Waters” which eventually falls away to leave not quite whispered vocals over some slow burning building guitar work. When an unclean vocal makes an appearance for a few lines towards the back end of the song it’s unnecessary as the group vocals that surround it are building the atmosphere and beauty. “Avatar” is one of the few tracks that start with the unclean vocals and a more aggressive stance. It’s DJentisms aren’t broken by the clean chorus that appears at the 2 minute mark and it manages to achieve a fine balance between the albums stylings. A programmed underpinned section is used to build atmosphere before the thunderous DJent groove breakdown and final chorus and verse. “Antler’s Decay” is another heavier track and even features a not quite “Bleigh!” moment. The synth layer gives an orchestral feel to the tune as it sits underneath the driven Tech-Metal guitar work and when we do get a moment when the synths are on their own it lends a science fiction vibe that is in keeping with the albums cover art.

Some cold electronics start off “Down The Spine” like an interlude before some Orchestral work and a clean vocal verse about the World’s paradox. Another quirky programmed break brings in the rest of the band and after a clean verse the uncleans come in accompanied by some juddering off kilter guitar work. There is a sense of Unprocessed trying to cram every element of their capabilities into a single song in places, so rather than a seamless flow there is a stark contrast. It does however grow on you over multiple listens and if you’re a fan of their heavier material it will become a stand out moment. The haunting melody of “Another Sky” is made up of so much more than the bands instruments that in order to play it live they’ll need to accompany a backing track. Synths, programming and orchestra all accompany the band as they make a Progressive cinematically epic song that grows from a small seed to a mighty Oak by the time it reaches its lead flourish. The brutal uncleans at the start of “The Movements, Their Echoes” see Fernandes reach a level that we didn’t think he was capable of as the driven riffs follow the programming out of the gate. There are a few Devin Townsend moments before the female backing loop comes in and the everything takes a strange turn. There are parts which sound like they belong on “Golden Age of Grotesque” by Marilyn Manson while still being Unprocessed at their core. It’s an experiment that grows on you but is a complete left field blindsider the first time around. Finishing on a programmed instrumental note with some beautiful piano movements “Closure” brings together the albums sound nicely and finishes on a final note of beauty.

The album as a whole is a challenge because for all it’s complete sounding flow and energy there are a few places where things either don’t quite work or you’re left wanting more, while it’s often hard to see where that would fit. There is a trade off between the styles that the band have within their range and this one comes across on the beautiful Progressive side of Tech-Metal and some of the less is more DJent groove of the previous album isn’t here. That’s not to say it’s a bad album by any means though it may divide some fans who are looking for something heavier [7.5/10]

Track listing

  1. Prototype
  2. Artificial Void
  3. Ruins
  4. Fear
  5. Abandoned
  6. House of Waters
  7. Avatar
  8. Antler’s Decay
  9. Down The Spine
  10. Another Sky
  11. The Movements, Their Echoes
  12. Closure

“Artificial Void” by Unprocessed is out now via Long Branch Records

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