Unto Us -
The Human Landscape

(CD 2014, 48:08, Darkhill Music DH001)

The tracks:
  1- Towers Of Babel(9:47)
  2- Boy(9:19)
  3- In A Lifetime(8:44)
  4- A Human Landscape(1:51)
  5- These Four Walls(8:09)
  6- Plan B(10:19)

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After the release of Also Eden's It's Kind Of You To Ask (2008, see review) vocalist Huw Lloyd-Jones left the band, giving his fans as well as his successor Rich Harding a hard time. He's not that easy to replace as a singer, but the band did well. Huw himself went on to form Unto Us in 2011, together with bass player Leopold Blu-Sky. They spent some time forming the band, and took their time composing and recording an album - The Human Landscape which was released in September 2014. By then, the band consisted of Huw and Leopold, accompanied by Alex White on keyboards, Tom Ennis on guitars and former Also Eden colleague Dave Roelofs on drums. The latter had to leave the band due to other priorities after the album was released, and has since been replaced by Rohan Jordan-Shah.

The band describe their music as 'original prog-tinged rock', and claim to have jazz, metal, folk and classical influences - brought in through the different backgr ounds of the band members. All these influences make the album a very worthwhile listen - in fact, all these things combined make it slightly more than just 'prog-tinged'. The main examples of this are the opening track Towers Of Babel and These Four Walls. Both contain non- standard drum patterns, wailing keyboards and flawless guitar work. Both tracks have some vague resemblance with the early Marillion sound, but the overall sound is more varied than that, Towers Of Babel even has something in it that reminded me of Wild Frontier-era Gary Moore.

All five tracks on the album (A Human Landscape, the title track is less that two minutes long, but is actually the piano intro to These Four Walls) run well over eight minutes, and consist of clearly different sections each - always building up to a climax, but never in the same way. One goes from a ballad sound into a jazz instrumental (In A Lifetime), another develops into a beating rock track (Towers Of Babel) and a third flows through quieter waters from begi nning to end - leaving a lot of room for Huw's strong, emotional vocals (Boy).

In six tracks that are actually five, running a total of 48 minutes-a lot is going on. This band delivered a fine album, that has some neo-progressive influences but is much more eclectic than that, and definitely worth a listen. What surprises me though is the limited amount of marketing effort spent on it - not a single track was online until I asked the band if I could post one on my blog. The amount of reviews available online is also quite small, given that the album has been out for several months already. Unless this changes when the band starts touring, this could become a hidden cult gem.

***+ Angelo Hulshout (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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