French modern thrashers LYZANXIA seemed to have gotten their fair share of accolades these past few years and a fair amount of anticipation accompanied the recently released (October 17 in the U.S.) "Unsu", the band's debut for France's Listenable Records. Said album is my first exposure to the group's music and in the final analysis, I am not completely sold.Brothers David and Franck Potvin, vocals/lead guitar and vocals/rhythm guitar, respectively, come up with a handful of crunchy, sometimes technical, riffs and solos, and usually average melodies. The comparison points are SOILWORK and IN FLAMES, though LYZANXIA never quite achieve the songwriting prowess of either band and the guitar work is not quite as memorable. Lest anyone smell an indictment of the group coming their way, let me back up by stating that LYZANXIA's "Unsu" is a pretty good listen, even if the style becomes somewhat redundant three-fourths of the way through the album. The production of Fredrik Nordström and assistant Patrik J. Sten puts a lot of crunch into the riffs and offers a crisp drum sound, but even here I have heard better work from Freddie the Great. As for the songwriting, there are no bad tracks, but several teeter dangerously close to mediocrity, at least from the standpoint of hooks that never reach the point of becoming embedded in the brain. There are a few exceptions, as the SOILWORK-esque chorus of "Path Blade" and the title track demonstrate, the latter nicely incorporating some Eastern flavored picking that alternates with one of many strong guitar solos. The occasional harmony vocal on a song like the fierce "Early Phases" and a smattering of light keyboards enhances the compositions ever so slightly. The alternating vocals work well, yet do not make the experience as dynamic as one would think. "Unsu" will most likely be adored by a good many fans of modern, Swedish style, thrash. In fact, it is one of those albums that make me think I should like it a great deal more, yet most of the songs left me nonplussed. Be that as it may, there is just enough in the way of smoking guitars, a few better than average melodies, and an overall aggressive delivery that is quite satisfying to keep the rating above mediocre. It's the old "something is missing" argument.
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