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Review

Unreqvited – Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse Review

Band:  Unreqvited
Album:  Mosaic II: la déteste et la détresse
Label:  Prophecy Productions
Genre:  Atmospheric-Black Metal / Blackgaze
Country:  Canada
Release Date:  January 10, 2020

Unreqvited is back at it again with the sequel to Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur. Mosaic I is “love and zeal” whereas the Mosaic II is “hate and distress”. If it isn’t obvious enough, these two records together are ying and yang, light and dark, life and death. You cannot deny all the hard work that goes into any Unreqvited record given that everything is done by a single person and considering that Mosaic II is coming out only fourteen months since the previous record, it is especially impressive. Although meant to be experienced as a whole, I will cut straight to the point and say that I prefer Mosaic I to Mosaic II as the sound that is found on this new record is without a doubt mysterious and gloomy but it isn’t always the most engaging.

Mosaic I was a great record, full of rich and dreamy soundscapes and was overall, a very beautiful and hopeful musical experience despite being a depressive, atmo-black record at face value. Although still following the atmo-black trend, Mosaic II on the other hand is the exact opposite in terms of the mood portrayed by the music. This record is obviously much more hopeless and bleaker compared to its lush and uplifting prequel. Just looking at the artwork for the two records shows you exactly how the records will each sound given the vibrant colors on part I and the melancholic color palette on part II. Taking a close look at the artwork will reveal that the overall design among the two records is the same but it is flipped and has either a woman or a man on the two records respectively. Looking at the two artworks side by side makes it appear that these two individuals are separated across different dimensions, each trapped in their own separate world, yet trying to communicate all to no avail. Going back to the music, when both records are taken in as one cohesive whole, one Mosaic if you will, there is balance and duality found in the musical tones that is representative of the theme of each record. It really is one cohesive experience that brings you up high with Mosaic I just to bring you back down to the lowest of lows with part II. When Mosaic II is taken in on its own, that is where the experience/music suffers a little bit.

Alike many records in this subgenre, and in other genres and subgenres, the record creates an experience that transcends the music itself. When it comes to the Mosaic records, this full experience requires taking in both records at once and not so much individually.  Don’t get me wrong, both records are solid on their own, but it is obvious that Mosaic I is much more eventful and memorable compared to its sequel but that isn’t to say that this record doesn’t have its moments, it most certainly does but they are unfortunately few and far between. This new record opens up with the traditional amto-black track, Nightfall, and peaks at the track Disorder. Nightfall starts off ever so mysteriously with the dreamiest of arpeggios; it feels as if you have just awoken in a disturbingly peaceful forest and are completely. Wasteland provides some gnarly riffs and blast beats alongside the orchestral passages that all together, give me life. Pale is one track that provides some hopefulness in the dark, with the choir and the smooth guitar leads providing you a guiding light out of this dark and weirdly troubling forest of ambiance.

The vivid and mesmerizing opening to Disorder makes me feel as if I am in the water level in Super Mario 64 and I cannot even begin to describe the nostalgia that this track makes me feel. Compared to Mosaic I, the atmosphere on this record is without a doubt vibrant yet incredibly bleak and hopeless with the exception of the track Pale. Once again, the pianos provide most of the melody, which makes these Mosaic records perfect to show people apprehensive to any form of metal in general. The last three tracks, the Transcience suite, is unfortunately a little longer than it needs to be given its mostly ambient and atmospheric nature with very little going on. It would have been more impactful if these ambient tracks were slightly shorter and put in the middle of the record instead of at its tail end. Despite that, this record does feel quite a bit different, in a good way of course, when experienced in full.

As I mentioned in my review for Mosaic I, I feel like some vocals could very much add more to the music. I am all for instrumentals, but these records feel like they’re just missing something, that something being vocals. There are several screams and distant sounding choir passages here and there, but exactly like in Mosaic I, they are the same vocal parts being used throughout the record as more of an adornment (if I had to give it a name). Especially on this darker record, some broody cleans or a wider variety of emotional and piercing screams would have really added to the cold and gloomy sound that this record is creating, making you feel even more empty than before. In addition, the record does feel slightly less ‘eventful’ and there are several parts that tend to drag on longer than they need to be, but the luscious soundscapes most certainly make up for it.

Overall, the quality of the music does take a slight hit going from Mosaic I to II. Regardless, it is still quite an impressive one-man effort creating this haunting and dark musical realm. It feels a little drawn out at times, but the captivating and peculiar soundscapes were easily enough to keep me interested. In hindsight, there is a bit that could’ve been done to make this record even gloomier and more eventful while still maintaining the Unreqvited sound, but I have a feeling that this record was going for more of a “gentle void” kind of vibe (as in the title of the second to last track) as opposed to a truly disturbing atmo-black record as I hoped it would be. It would be unjust to listen to Mosaic I without Mosaic II, so I urge you to.

Rating: 7/10

Tracklist:

  1. Nightfall
  2. Wasteland
  3. Pale
  4. Disorder
  5. Transience I – The Ambivalent
  6. Transience II – The Gentle Void
  7. Transience III – The Static

Total Playing Time: 47:49

Click here to visit Unreqvited’s Bandcamp

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