ALBUM REVIEW: UnityTX – ‘Ferality’

Artwork for UnityTX’s ‘Ferality’

Now that we’re a good decade into nu-metal’s reappraisal, it’s safe to say that it’s worked like gangbusters. A sound that typically got a bad rap for being stupid and commercial (when its most stupid and commercial acts were some of its most visible—can you imagine?) is now being recognised as something more, and that’s only a good thing. Perhaps the most noteworthy development in modern incarnations, though, is how much more successful it is as a component of something larger. Those who’ve ridden it to the highest heights recently tend to use it to flesh out metalcore; even this year’s gold-medal nu-metallers Graphic Nature have found most value from the already-adjacent Slipknot-esque strain.

Which leads to UnityTX as the next stepping stone, a melting pot of grisly heaviness encompassing nu-metal, hardcore, metalcore and hip-hop, with an ear for a musical cudgel that saw their 2019 work MADBOY prick up quite a few ears. It was a decent release, too—brief but brusque, and showing off its heaviness in spades—but ultimately wasn’t as adventurous as it had maybe been sold. That kind of spin of boundary-agnostic ambition should’ve probably been saved for Ferality, where it’s way more applicable. Not only do UnityTX make good in bringing together all those moving parts, but they do it in a way that’s one of the most comprehensive and dexterous example of it produced in some time. And that’s more than ‘new band hyperbole’; there are songs here that fall far out of what you’d typically expect, and UnityTX feel all the stronger for how resolutely the stick the landing.

For starters, as far as simple, pounding brutality goes, there are no complaints. At no point does Ferality dip by any detrimental amount, nor do UnityTX lose sights of where their best results come from. If anything, that’s one thing they’ve got the most nailed down, as they split the difference between a surgical, corroded nu-metal edge, and some frankly outlandish bravado in terms of size. There are genuine hooks that really do slam in out of nowhere here, like the slithering radio-metal melodiousness of POWER, or how KILLING ALCHEMY is a Korn-like as it gets, in the best possible way.

Beyond that, the script flips of how well-versed in hip-hop UnityTX are, without question, the real defining characteristics of Ferality. This is not rap-metal emboldened by genre namesake with the barest ability to actually rap; Jay Webster has a far more cutting ability than that, to where the inclusion of straight-up hip-hop tracks aren’t an overreach whatsoever. It’s particularly true of DIAMOND DIEZ, with its hulking trap murk and floor-level rasp to illustrate its images of masochism; make it a bit glassier, and this is literally just a clipping. song.

There’s a great variety overall, but not a single thread of that ever feels disparate, such is UnityTX’s excellence in crafting a cohesive yet multifaceted sound for themselves. Stampeding heaviness on LOST IN DAYZ… and WORLD OF MALICE rubs shoulders with pure hip-hop on PICTURE THIS; blending the two for ROC SH!T only sounds more natural again. Above all, it’s just a really sick sound they’ve gone all in on, especially when so few corners have evidently been cut to get them there. This could easily lumber and bulge with how much has gone into it, but prioritising leanness and finding the most economical conversion for everything is how Ferality strikes like it does. That, and UnityTX have a supply of viciousness that lasts them well until the end. Of course there isn’t top-tier lyricism on display here (even from some of the more cut-and-dry hip-hop turns, sadly), but Webster can still sell the hell out of what’s here, be that crushing turmoil on ROTTING AWAY (GORE), or a carnivorous play for the top of the musical food chain on ROC SH!T. (Also, FAKE LUV ends with the lyric “You a bitch a half, times two / That’s three bitches you pussy motherfucker, fuck you”, which might be one of the greatest wham lines ever committed to record.)

Everywhere you turn with Ferality, it simply offers a new idea or aspect that enforces how great a find UnityTX are, and also how enormous they jump made to get here was. If past releases could feel somewhat disconnected from their associated bigging up, Ferality is nothing of the sort. Every idea on the table is suitably built and paid off; every venture across the breadth of this tight-knit fusion yields something else that’s at least cool to try. And above all, UnityTX rip into it with the confidence of a band clearly aware that their shooting for the moon is paying off handsomely. Modern heavy music could use more bands like UnityTX, who can embrace both the ‘modern’ and the ‘heavy’ wholeheartedly, and come out immeasurably stronger for it.

For fans of: Slipknot, Korn, Dropout Kings

‘Ferality’ by UnityTX is released on 8th September on Pure Noise Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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