Greek prog outfit Poem has definitely adopted some sort of stealth technique when it comes to new releases. Just like their second full length Skein Syndrome (2016) their fresh third effort Unique somehow manages to simply… having been released, without you knowing you were waiting for it. It’s only upon giving the progressive darkness a whirl that you realize there was a need, a want, to hear it. Poem makes Unique a varied album, and deliver unto us a set of rhythmically heavy passages bringing the groove and the thunder, which break beautifully against the softer waves. This gives an enchanting blend of despair and pain, hope and transgression, in constant rhythmic fluidity, captured with a heartful of darkness and a gloomy sense of emptiness, even in the airier parts. Obviously so, given song titles like My Own Disorder and The Brightness Of Loss - about as far from rainbows and puppies as musical themes get. This isn’t to their detriment, as Poem channels these emotions naturally.
Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Giorgios Prokopiou brings passion in no small numbers, much like he did on the predecessor. The man is blessed with one of the most expressive voices in metal these days, bringing emotion somewhat like that of Mark Kennedy of Damnations Day (with whom Poem are touring, as of writing). Grungy motions are tossed into the mix in massive single My Own Disorder, while tracks like Euthanasia and the title track delve into prog rock, straying from the otherwise massive metal formula. The latter is a fine grower, that starts slow and calm and with a powerful delivery by vocalist Propkopiou, that then evolves into a slowly heavy rhythmic beast, that then again turns into the slow cooking breather, no less dense in atmosphere. It has been argued that the song is too long, and that some of the “saucier” parts could be removed. You could, sure, but not without losing the integrity of the song. In fact, it could serve to have the weightier parts elongated. A great track to be sure, though the album has several better.
From the very beginning, the album is set in motion showcasing Poem’s immense talent and prominence in penning weighty prog metal of great substance. False Morality, the shortest track, opens with airy groove and delightful vocal melodies. It’s followed by the aforementioned My Own Disorder, one of the most emotionally driven and heaviest songs in Poem’s discography thus far. Third is Four Cornered God, nearly eight minutes in length, which blends the softer edges from the albums latter half with the groove and heavy senses of the first two tracks. Though one might call Discipline and closing track Brightness Of Loss slight dips in comparison with the other material, there is still ample good parts to be found all over the album. Lead guitarist Laurence Bergström amasses heavily with distinct leads alongside the naturally heavy and easily flowing rhythms of Prokopious’ rhythm guitars, as well as Takis Foitos and Stavros Rigos on bass and drums respectively. All in all, Unique is a great step forward from the first two albums, which in hindsight have a sense of anonymitiy to them; it feels more cohesive - bigger, better and in every aspect more remarkable.
Standout tracks: My Own Disorder, Four Cornered God, Euthanasia