Portland’s Unto Others have released their new album, Strength, on Friday (24th) via Roadrunner Records. The group, formerly known as Idle Hands, released their debut EP with 2017’s Don’t Waste Your Time, followed by 2019’s full-length effort, Mana, and they’ve now branched out to a fresh chapter with the name change, new label, and an upcoming tour. Metal Insider contributors decided this was the perfect time to review their new album, Headbangers’ Brawl style.
Jeff Podoshen: I’m really enjoying this record. It’s got that spooky goth sound with some nice taps on the accelerator here and there. This record reminds me so much of the 80s, a time before COVID, climate change, AOC, and the other horrors we contend with on a daily basis here in the 20s. It seems that these guys have a deep appreciation for those who came before them but with their own unique spin that makes this record familiar but fresh at the exact same time. I can’t stop listening to it.
Matthew Brown: Mana was my 2019 album of the year and is one of my absolute favorites. I never get tired of it. I felt bad for the band when they had to change their name for legal reasons, but it looks like they’ve taken it in stride. Strength is more of all the stuff that made the band good in the first place. The first half feels heavier than anything they’ve done before with flashy 80’s metal guitar tone and propelling double bass pedal. The latter half leans more into the goth rock vibe. I love that they covered Pat Benatar’s “Hell is For Children ” as it perfectly fits with the dreary, depressing themes of their other songs. “Downtown,” “When Will God’s Work Be Done,” and “Why” are currently my favorite tracks. This’ll be on my end-year list for sure.
Zenae Zukowski: I agree with Jeff here; Strength takes you back to better days. This album reminds me of the good old days, when I was younger and dancing to goth, new wave, etc., at some grungy underground NYC club at 3 am and soon after stopping at the classic and now closed Yaffa cafe. While the songs hold a more substantial meaning, they give me joyous emotions and random flashbacks. There’s no haste or division, and it simply lets us get lost in the music with some added 80s nostalgia fun. And I’m not saying that to make them sound outdated; there’s definitely a modern twist to it. The only complaint I have is, this album is making my year-end choices very difficult this year.
Bram Teitelman: It’s a little weird the way I got into post-punk, in that I never really did. I never really cared for Joy Division, and worked my way upwards from Killing Joke after hearing Metallica cover “The Wait” on The $5.98 EP, not exploring their earlier stuff until way after the point. Which is to say that I like bands that have the aforementioned bands’ influences much more than the OGs. Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures were one of my favorite discoveries of the last decade, especially the Beastmilk record. On first listen, I’m enjoying this. There’s nothing particularly original about it, but that’s kind of beside the point. If you like goth, rock, or metal that could’ve come out 40 years ago, you’ll have no issues with this record. I think it’ll be interesting to see what Roadrunner does with these guys, since there aren’t really any bands on majors that sound like Unto Others. The last time they had a band that straddled goth, rock and metal was a band called Type O Negative. I’m not in any way saying these guys hold a candle to Type O, but with the right marketing and put in front of the right tastemakers, they could be as popular.
Jeff Podoshen: Bram, I’m rather surprised they aren’t more popular.
Matthew Brown: I think they would be more popular by now if it weren’t for a) the pandemic screwing with touring plans and b) the name change. These guys had just finished a tour with King Diamond in December 2019 and probably could have done a small venue headlining tour in 2020. As I said, they seem to be taking it in stride, but I think the momentum was disrupted a bit.
Elise Yablon: The first thing that strikes me about this album is the lead singer’s voice. He’s got this deep, haunting vibe that’s really appealing. The 80’s post-punk/horror rock song melodies are inviting and easy to grasp as well. I think this has been said already, but the album sounds both new and completely familiar at the same time. I can’t say that it brings me back to a certain place, but I’m very much a punk person and this feels like something I could see myself putting on in the background while working.
Sara Elizabeth: I am really digging this album. I love the doomy goth metal—Most certainly getting a Type O Negative vibe from these guys, though there is a good mix of 80’s glam rock sprinkled in as well. The distortion and vocal reverb works in their favor and adds another element to the album. I think die hard fans and new fans alike will enjoy listening. I wouldn’t be surprised if Unto Others blow up once we see tours really starting up again over the next year or so.