Unholy returns with a brand new full-length effort, and with it comes a number of new beginnings. First off, the band has seen a major lineup shift, trading out vocalists and its rhythm section. Secondly, the band has upgraded to a more high profile home at Prosthetic Records. In spite of these changes, Unholy has continued to deliver a quality product worthy of your notice.
The most notable change for those previously familiar with Unholy is going to be the vocals. New Life Behind Closed Eyes is the first recording with new vocalist Billy Price. From his opening screams on "Seeker Immortal" it's obvious that Price is a commanding figure. His deep-throated barks bring a much more aggressive nature to the Unholy sound. This is matched with the songwriting duo of guitarists Jonathan Dennison and Steve Caiello. They duel each other with a bruising mixture of punishing 90's inspired hardcore crunch and speedy 80's thrash - the occasional solo even makes a guest appearance in songs.
Throughout the album we are treated to an outstanding display of musicianship. The group's sound is deeply rooted in the hardcore sounds of the 1990's but it also boasts flair of metal to it as well. By no means would I call Unholy a metal band, but I can see the appeal they will have to longhairs. Cuts like "The Blinding Light" and "Behind the Veil of Darkness" are full-on headbanging fury from start to finish - imagine a mixture of Crowbar and Slayer.
On the flipside, the band's rooted history with hardcore is also put on display over the course of New Life Behind Closed Eyes. Dennison's tenure in titans like Another Victim, The Promise, and Santa Sangre is evident in all the songs. There is a definitely inspiration from groups like Damnation A.D. and Earth Crisis throughout - especially on "These Wounds Never Heal" and "Into the Flesh of Another."
Lyrically, the album is dripping with a bleak and pessimistic viewpoint of society. Dennison, who penned the lyrics, is influenced by classic horror, politically charged hardcore, and an obvious disappointment with humanity in these desperate times. This dark-theme matches the gnarling sounds of the ten songs that comprise the album.
New Life Behind Closed Eyes marks a new chapter for Unholy, which makes perfect sense given the lineup shifts between albums. The music is as volatile as ever, but with the addition of more powerful vocals the band has taken things to different level. So long as they don't get portrayed as a metal band - as Earth Crisis and Himsa unfortunately suffered the fate of such mislabeling - they should do just fine.