REVIEW: THE UNITY – THE UNITY (2017)

Vis Unitor Fortir – and United Strength being stonger 

As any student of Latin knows  (or like MV you could have seen it on Stoke City FC’s badge) Vis Unitor Fortir is translated as United Strength is stronger.

Such a belief underpins the six people in The Unity. The main men are Gamma Ray members Michael Ehré (drums) and Henjo Richter (guitar). Richter has been part of the Hamburg power metal outfit for some twenty years, while Ehré’s CV includes – prior to his joining the Gamma Ray fold in 2012 – renowned names such as Firewind, Uli Jon Roth and Unisonic, to name but a few.

They are joined by Italian vocalist Gianba Manenti, guitarist Stef E, bassist Jogi Sweers and keyboardist Sascha Onnen since the launch of Ehré’s group Love.Might.Kill, which has released two albums to date and played shows in a large number of European countries.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that The Unity are far from your average new band.

Which, in fairness, is a statement rendered as absolutely pointless by the time “Rise And Fall”, the first song on the album is concluded. A track that is both melodic and powerful – but done with enough of a metal kick. Indeed, if it was on a Symphony X album it would be a stand out.  It is a brilliant track.

It is not alone – in fact it is just one of 12 brilliant songs that “The Unity” (the album) possesses.

“No More Lies” shows itself in and makes itself comfortable with a massive, chunky riff, and pummelling bass but like all its compatriots it makes wonderful use of stack harmonies and comes complete with a chorus that insists you sing it.

“God Of Temptation” is a more monolithic beast – one which just about restrains itself from full on Euro parping power metal, “Firesign” has a touch of the Game Of Thrones soundtrack about it to start with, and still manages to be something of which Firewind would be proud. For clarity, this makes it very good. Indeed.

Blimey, even the slower tunes rock. Nothing here can see why less is more. “Not Always You” has a tinge of balladry about it, but is heavy enough not to care and “Close To Crazy” is yet more proof that the trump card here is the astonishing Manenti, who puts a fine shift in throughout.

“The Wishing Well” adds a kind of Zeppelin-esque acoustic dynamic, but only if Dream Theater were playing a Zep covers set, if “Eden’s Fall” is the kind of AOR of the late 1980s, then it is a classy stab at it.

There is more light and shade and plenty of ideas that aren’t normally on records of this type. “Redeemer” has a dirty riff, “Killer Instinct” has an electro fixation at the start and “Never Forget” concludes things in the outright orchestral way that a number of the preceding cuts have hinted at – and finally lets itself go with a genuinely soaring Avantasia style chorus.

The scary thing is that this is only their debut. Maybe The Unity will get even better and this is just the opening salvo. Whatever, this is a brilliant collection and one which proves categorically that as the old folk song said in 1913 (and it’s just as relevant now). There is power in a union.

Rating 9/10