This concept record is the musical form of that backyard sci-fi film that everyone wanted to make with their best friend as a kid: vivid and ambitious in vision—except this is disappointing upon execution. Prog rock requires confidence to pull off, and this band isn’t sure what it wants to sound like. Tremendous effort went into the lyrical construction of Global Unified’s dystopian world, full of robots and state surveillance. However, their story does not grab the listener and set us on a logical course; rather, we are plopped into a post-apocalyptic scene without a map. Quiet guitar and hesitant vocals were surprising to encounter after reading the bombastic, political stage setup in the liner notes. It’s as if someone recruited Trey Anastasio of Phish into Genesis, but imbued his lyrics with quavering, ominous darkness. There is some grunge or drone exploration waiting to happen, and I hope they go for it in the future. The standout track, “Desert Soliloquy,” dips toes into Queens Of The Stone Age-ish heaviness with down-swinging core notes, but following tracks then spiral out into bizarre electronic dance music territory. It’s beautiful to drift from sparkly to brooding and back, but there are too many lighter-waving moments where I waited for songs to get to the point. When a new band gets caught up in the “we gotta be different, man” mantra and smashes disparate genres together without establishing what they’re out to accomplish, the sound is fragmented. I hear elements of Blue Öyster Cult heavy rock, the symphonics of the Who, and the Pixies’ loud-quiet-loud dynamic. Within each song, these genre shifts work, but between tracks they are jarring. These guys are technically advanced musicians, and I trust they’ll find a way out. It lies not in abandoning their concept, but in making it relatable. Global Unified needs to give their well-illustrated RPG a soundtrack that vacillates between a couple of genres rather than trying to pack in absolutely everything.
–Claire Palermo (Self-released, [email protected], globalunified.org, globalunified.bandcamp.com)