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Unicorn - After Before CD (album) cover





2.51 | 3 ratings

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2 stars The Weakest Unicorn Release

For those of you who read my reviews and/or know me well for the forums, you would probably know that I have a bit of a soft spot for the music of Swedish neo-prog band Unicorn. I always love their heartfelt and sincere compositions, and even though their releases always have a fair share of flaws, I consider myself a fan of this product of Dan Swanö, Peter Edwinzon, and Anders Mareby. On their fourth, and final, demo - 1992's After Before - I am pretty disappointed, however. This is the weakest Unicorn release for various reasons that are exclusive to this demo only.

First of all, After Before contains material that would all be soon released on full-length Unicorn albums. This will probably significantly lower the appeal of this demo to most people, especially considering that the album versions of these five tracks are significantly better than these demos. There are a few cases with Unicorn's music where I actually prefer the demo to the album release, but that isn't the case with any of the songs on After Before. Many of them sound underdeveloped and have rather flawed arrangements, both of which were improved on the final versions. For that reason alone, After Before can really only be regarded as a collector's item. It's a pretty good collector's item at that, but it is nonetheless completely non-essential.

Another major issue with this demo is Dan's vocals. I would say that they sound rather weak on this demo, which is odd since he usually has a fantastic voice. It often sounds strained and out of his normal range. This is another problem that was mostly fixed on the album versions. His voice on the previous three demos (The Weirdest of Tales in particularly) is far superior to this demo.

As I mentioned, I have a bit of a problem with Dan Swanö's voice on this demo, but the musicianship is otherwise pretty good. Dan's drumming sounds much tighter, precise, and professional on this demo, which is of course a good thing. Anders Mareby isn't given as many killer solos on this demo (if you want to hear him do some fantastic solos, get The Weirdest of Tales). He still does a great job, as usual, but I don't think that this is quite his best. The same goes with Peter Edwinzon. He does a really great job, but I think that he has done better on previous demos and future albums. I also miss some of the keyboard tones on the earlier demos. I know that they can sound cheesy at times, but it gave Unicorn some of their charm in my opinion.

The production is largely an improvement over the previous demos. It sounds more professional to these ears. I actually prefer the productions of the early demos, though. Even though most audiophiles won't be able to tolerate the amateurish mixing of their first three demos, I personally think it gave Unicorn some of their appeal.

After Before consists of five tracks, which adds up to almost a half-hour in length. As I've mentioned earlier, all five of these tracks can be found on Unicorn's future albums, which I highly recommend hearing. My favorite tracks are When The World Came Watching and After Before. None of the other tracks are bad, though some of them are a bit hit-and-miss. Especially the opening track, Liquefy. It has some really fantastic moments, but it has a few poor transitions that really lower my overall enjoyment of the song.


After Before is the weakest Unicorn demo by far, and I can't give it more than 2 stars. This is really only for Unicorn fans (like myself), and even then you're not guaranteed to be impressed. Despite my complaining, After Before still isn't a terrible demo. I've heard so many disastrous demos from various bands, and this one is quite good by comparison. If you're a fan of Unicorn, this is worth getting. After all, it's available for free.

2 stars.

J-Man | 2/5 |


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