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1. Labyrinth of Betrayal
2. Tragic Aura
3. Velvet Ribbon
5. Conducting With Passion From the Grave
6. Village of the Elders
7. Blight Reflections
10. Festooned With Snakes
11. A Remarkable Abomination
Review By: Casey 'Ichigoramune' Cooney
When I first heard about Journal, I took a quick listen to one song and dismissed it because I couldn't comprehend it fully yet. It wasn't until weeks later that I discovered how extremely impressive Unlorja actually is. It's not hard to give the guys a good word about their musicianship. That speaks entirely for itself. You have extremely complex guitar riffs, great backing bass melodies, incredibly tight drum patterns, all topped off with a trio of extremely talented vocalists. (Though, not technically part of the band, they sure add a whole new element. And even more technically, there is a fourth vocalist but I'll get to that later.) I've never felt more compelled to listen to the entirety of an album until I had my first listen through of Unlorja. It's a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, and you better believe, that you want to ride this one more than once.
You start off with Labyrinth of Betrayal; the genesis of the epic that is the story of Unlorja. With constantly changing tempos, you never get bored. It's a very nice intro track, though the ending of the song is almost contradictory, if it didn't fit with the story so well. (It's the game over screen to one of the greatest games ever, but that's another story.) Then they take you directly into a melancholy tune of Tragic Aura. I think this track helps build the story, as sort of a game theme, as well as a plot device. It feels like something out of the best video games they are trying to emulate.
The album only gets better from there, with every track almost topping the last. To me, the standout tracks would be Viela, Conducting With Passion From the Grave (Clever title here), and A Remarkable Abomination. Though, when you have an album of this caliber, it's hard to say which tracks are the best or which standout the most.
Viela is the most melodic song on the album, with the most time dedicated to clean vocals. It also feels like the heart of the album. Conducting With Passion From the Grave was the track that really stood out on my first listen. The lyrics, melodies, singing, screaming, yelling, hitting, picking, and all of the other components of the song just make it feel so powerful. Of course, these are merely aspects of what makes Unlorja so great.To me, every single track, including the two fully instrumental intermissions, builds up to the song A Remarkable Abomination. The song feels like the final boss fight theme to the best kind of RPG game. It has emotion, and plenty of energy. The end feels like buildup to the final blow, and with a killing strike, the album is over.
Just then, you're hit with Nobuo Uematsu styled instrumentals. It almost feels like they took the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII and compiled it into a 30 minute epic. Each different part of the track has a presence all it's own. This time, they actually tell you the story, a beautifully done rendering of the entire story of Unlorja. From the beginning to the end, you get to know all the characters and themes fully.
BOTTOM LINE: Each and every song on this album is done extremely well. The technicality blends perfectly with the mix of melodies, riffs, and just overall vibe of the album. It's on my list for album of the year, as well as one of the greatest albums I have heard in my life; a high honor to most anybody that knows me. In short, Unlorja is a remarkable album, with musicianship that is unmatched in modern metal.
A final bonus to the album, it has musical references to some of the greatest video games. I don't want to ruin them, but any video game enthusiast will appreciate the references. With that, I hope to see more from Journal in the future, and eagerly anticipate anything new from them. They deserve any hype they get.