Live review from Underground Heavy #7:
1. Refuse to Surrender
2. Virtual Reality
4. Hands of Clock
Another Heavy night began, again (and perhaps fittingly), with a band that has a typical metal line-up and a typical post-80s metal name. Unto the Dawn do fit quite well within that category (if you would be willing to call it that), because their sound seems to be one of general 90s-onwards metal – in particular, the lead guitars tend to lean towards a style fitting of Mark Tremonti (who was a good guitarist with a distinct style, despite the hideous abortion that was Creed), combined with a general mid-tempo tendency which makes them sound almost like slacker metal (!! –an oxymoron?) despite the busy guitar-work. This deceptively lazy feel was helped by the drummer who, although had a routine style in terms of metal drumming, used volume modulation to his advantage – not a common tendency among metal drummers here in HK – which bears noting. Their hyperkinetic singer is not only interesting to watch, but has a relatively high-pitched screaming voice which puts him into the enviable category of singers who can scream like Matt Heafy. Which is not surprising, considering that the band does generally seem to take many cues from the sounds of Trivium – UtD’s particular conglomerate of thrash, metalcore and hard rock sounds much like 2004-7 Trivium. A very good thing, since this means that the combination of metal subgenres gels well and sounds unified, rather than like they’re just touching bases (a constant issue I take with contemporary metal bands, including those in HK). The singer’s stage persona, though, is more punk than metal – mock-strangling oneself with the mic cord is a classic Stiv Bators/GG Allin move. Furthermore, their songs tend to be short, and avoid the classic metal pitfall of transitioning from cool to wanky because of the length.
Refuse to Surrender featured a bit of Primus-like whimsical riffing, which was carried on through the set, though in much more diluted form. Virtual Reality was more of a chord-based moody song, much like those on MCR’s second album – the angst of the singer and the stormy guitars combined particularly well here. Suicide is their best-structured song, because even though UtD’s songs tend to be better connected than many local metal bands I’ve seen, this one was a particularly good example of non-repetitive continuity. It moved subtly between rhythms, and the breakdown was near-perfect on this one; plus there was a solo that’s Buckethead-worthy. Lyrically, though, the ideas are by and large hackneyed and very adolescent, and the instrumentation tends to lean uncomfortably close to that too. This tarnishes the experience (or it did mine, anyway) and gives the definite impression of “good, not great”. But, they’re only slightly more than a year old, so there are no verdicts yet; just an observation that these guys are impressive, and could be even better, if they work at their lyrics and style.
– Shashwati Kala