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Unified Past - Shifting the Equilibrium CD (album) cover


Unified Past


Progressive Metal

3.91 | 44 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Unified Past have been around since 1999 and have released several albums, most of them since 2008. This most recent release of theirs, 2015's "Shifting the Equilibrium", introduces vocalist Phil Naro in the line-up. Naro has been active in the music business since he was a member of Talas some decades ago and can be heard on albums by Druckfarben, D-Drive and Corvus Stone to name a few.

I'm not familiar with any of Unified Past's previous albums, but it was my appreciation for Naro's vocals that led me to check out this album.

To sum it up, there's a lot of music going on here. There's a very full sound with lots of keyboards and heavy guitar, bass and drums, and of course the vocals. The music is intricate and complex, it has some great vocal lines and melodies but keeps you guessing often. It's like symphonic heavy metal but with a positive vibe like Yes and Glass Hammer. In fact, Naro's vocals make for an excellent metal counterpart to Jon Anderson's.

It's not just the song-writing and music composition but also the sound and use of the instruments. The bass comes in clunky and chunky at times and other times low and warm. The keyboards include some classically-influenced passages. The guitars stay mostly heavy with an excellent choice in distortion settings and yet because of the rich keyboard presence, the album does not have a real metal feel to it most of the time. The music keeps moving and changing, never easing back and resting, never going for 5-minute atmospheric passages. Even when the acoustic guitar comes in, it's mostly more to contribute to the overall sonic palette of the song and ease off the intensity and not to specifically establish an acoustic guitar interlude. I would note though that once or twice I felt the acoustic guitar lacked impact perhaps because this album's production leans more toward the loud and sonorously rich side. At times I wonder with so much going on in the music what does the vocalist have to do?

But Phil Naro contributes a great deal to the songs on which he sings ("Deviation from a Theme" is an instrumental). His voice is powerful and emotion-packed. Catch that "Won't Get Fooled Again" scream in "Smile (in the Face of Adversity)".

If there's anything to say that's not heaping praise, it's that with all that's going on in each song, it's not easy to single out any particular favourites. "Etched in Stone" and "Smile" appear mention in my notes at least twice each, so maybe I picked out parts of those most often. But in the end it's just a musical ride from start to finish. Initially, I also had a bit of a quibble about the production, wondering if the dynamic range hadn't suffered a bit as there was a certain flatness, I felt. But on my latest listen through in reparation for this review I didn't feel the sound quality had suffered so noticeably.

This is easily a three or four star album and I'll give it four!

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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