Midgar – Unity
Year Of The Rat Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Running Time: 50:52
Review by Beth Jones
This year has been 7 months of hell so far here at EMHQ. It’s almost as if it saw 2020, and uttered the eternal phrase “Bitch, hold my drink”! But, as always, the one constant for me is music, and the biggest observation of the music on offer this year is just how bloody outstanding it is. Picking my top ten albums of the year is going to be ridiculously difficult – I already have 14 on my list!
Today’s subject has added another name to that list. Midgar are a London based band, whose sound is a grand mix of Progressive Metal, Symphonic Rock/Metal, and Cinematic Rock, driven by piano and strings, with sweeping melodies and vocals. At the helm is main man Andy Wilson-Taylor, and this new album, “Unity” has been his lockdown project, which he wrote, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered at his own studio. And what a project and album he has turned out! Please excuse me while I wax lyrical about it
There are so many facets to the sound of Midgar. At the forefront, as mentioned, are dramatic piano melodies and sweeping strings. But dig deeper and you’ll find elements of Modern Metal and Djent, along with symphonic hooks, progressive rhythms, and use of the double harmonic ‘Arabian’ scale, to add to the drama. There are influences from all corners of music as well. Vocally, and emotively, this album reminds me a lot of Muse, but there are a couple of points where it takes on a more ‘pop’ feel, and conversely, some points which are straight out of Symphonic Black metal and Nu-Metal territory. By day, Andy composes for TV and Film, and that ‘classical soundtrack’ element is the driving force behind the sound.
Now, as many of you know, I’m a sucker for a ballad, and there are some absolute joys on this album, whether it be full tracks, or interludes, with one standing head and shoulders above the rest. More on that later.
The album opens with a short prelude, of piano and strings, with classical orchestration, including dramatic timpani rolls, followed by ‘Ascension’, which starts out in ballad fashion, but rises and grows into a massive Cinematic Rock track. Then, after 3 more crunchy and punchy songs, we get the first proper ballad, ‘Isle Of Glass’. A beautifully gentle piece, it holds some deep and melancholy undertones within its lyrics, that leave you wondering if it’s a love song, or a mournful view of imminent loss.
This dark undertone, lyrically, is seen throughout the album, whether it’s loss, pain, or disaffection. It’s very, very clever because, even though a lot of the songs are in minor keys, their beauty somehow disguises the melancholy which lies beneath.
In contrast to a lot of the album, ‘Nemesis’ brings forth apocalyptic rage. It starts with some huge punchy Blackened Thrash riffs, with screamed vocals, and twists and turns throughout. It does have piano and string sections, but heavy guitars are in the driving seat here. Superb track.
The penultimate, and title track, ‘Unity’, is another laid back, ballad, driven by strings, which lilts along, and brings down the frenetic movement of parts of the album, but builds towards the album finale. And it’s this final track that really puts the icing on this mighty fine cake of an album. ‘Go, Carefully’, for me, is quite possibly one of the most refined and beautiful ballads I have ever heard. It’s a track that speaks of endings, and it really got me in the feels.
I spent a large part of one evening this week, after a particularly terrible day, listening to it on repeat and just sobbing. It’s that emotive. It’s that beautiful. It’s stripped back – just piano, strings, and Andy’s faultless vocals. It’s breathtaking, and an absolute masterclass in how to write a ballad. From the crescendos and diminuendos to slight rallentando at the end of phrases, and perfect pauses creating fleeting moments of silence. Lyrically, it is so beautifully melancholic that it grabbed hold of my soul. This piece alone left me speechless and is now firmly on my list of all time favorite emotive ballads. An absolute genius way to close an album.
Wow. Just…wow. That’s really all I have to say to sum up. I’m blown away by this album. It really has something for everyone in it, and from a musical perspective, displays not only supreme talent and skill, but also a level of passion and depth that is rare.
‘Go, Carefully’ (Official Audio)
03. We Don’t Make The Rules
06. Isle Of Glass
07. Ira Vehementi
10. We Found The Darkness In The Sun
13. Go, Carefully
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