Monday, February 4, 2013

EP Review: Unbowed - "EP 2013"

I've been in Guelph for almost three years, and it's taken me this fucking long to start getting into the local metal scene. Three goddamn years. I'm almost ashamed of how long it's taken me, but hell, better late than never, right? The first band I was able to get in touch with are local folk-metallers Unbowed. I thought Guelph was one of the least likely of places to find folk metal (just behind North Dakota), but fuck me if we don't have at least one awesome folk metal band kicking around here.

Above: One awesome folk metal band kicking around here.
If I were to describe these guys in only two words, it'd be "fucking solid". Unbowed kick out five tunes in just over 20 minutes, and each of them are tight as hell. For a local band's debut EP, you expect something along the lines of four shitty songs and one alright song recorded with what sounds like a tin can telephone, right?

Wrong. Nothing of that sort is found here. This EP has five distinct and enjoyable tracks that are surprisingly produced damn well for a band this early in their career. For the heavy and visceral music that they're playing, everything sounds nice and raw, but still huge sounding. The guitars have a great thick tone to them, crunching away with headbangable as fuck riffs and air-guitar worthy leads. While I wouldn't call any of the riffs mind-blowing or game-changing, guitarists Alex Snape and Trevor Rice and bassist Zack Kasman dish out some seriously memorable guitar and bass work which make for some pretty addictive songs. I find Unbowed to be at their best when they're riffing out their faster and thrashier bits (see "March of the Giants"), but being an avid thrash, grind, and hardcore fan, I can't help but think my opinion on speed is somewhat biased.

Even the slower and midpaced songs and passages are handled really well by the band. Keyboardist Connor MacPherson is the main purveyor of Unbowed's folkiness, bringing lush strings and classic Ensiferum style synth into the mix. While it's a shame you never hear him show off his chops with a solo or some lead work, he does get to shine in spots such as the bridge of "The Prophecy Foretold" and the beginning to the intro track "Shadow of Dark Decay". Other than that, he's usually floating around in the mix bringing in cellos, violins, and choirs. I have to say that even with MacPherson's place within the music, I think the band would sound terribly empty without him.

As much as I love this EP, there are a couple things I'd like so see on Unbowed's next release, whether it be a split, another EP, or a full length. I'd love to have more technical and more varied drumming. While the drumming wasn't bad in any way, I felt like most of the time, their drummer Nick Lennox was there only to keep time. Now, I know. Drummers are supposed to keep time. Take your fingers off the goddamn keyboard before you comment on how little I know about how music works. Read this first, then comment on how little I know about how music works. Got it? Good. So, yes drummers need to keep time, but they also deserve some spotlight time here and there. I'd love to hear some monstrous fills and unorthodox rhythms next time around, and maybe if they're feeling adventurous, even a solo.

Another thing I'd like to have shaken up on their next release would be more variation with the vocals. While vocalist Ioan Tetlow is an absolute demon behind the mic, we only get his demonic prowess across this entire release. I think Unbowed's music would benefit from expanding to include not only just deep, guttural growls, but clean vocals and maybe even some gang vocals. Y'know, get a little viking chant going on. I think that's be sweet as fuck.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: March of the Giants, Gwyn Ap Nudd, As Winter Claims My Soul

On a Playlist With: Eluveitie, Frosthelm, Equilibrium

Overall Score


I'm proud to say Guelph's metal scene forged a band like Unbowed. These dudes may not be long in the tooth, but they've pieced some damn good metal together for their debut EP, and they show great promise for whatever they'll be up to next. This is a band you're going to need to keep your eyes out for.

Unbowed have Ferceberk, YouTube, and pages and use Bandcamp and BigCartel. If you're frequently on the Twittershpere, check 'em out there, too.

That's all for now, folks!



  1. But drummers are SUPPOSED to keep time

    1. Drummers are the ones with that big board in front of them, right? The one with the black and white keys?