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I don't like metalcore. Really, I don't. For whatever reason though, Unearth is bearable. Maybe it's due to the band being part of the genre melodic metalcore, but I can get into some of their stuff. For that reason, I decided to listen to a full album and give my thoughts on it.
The first song that I'd heard by this band was 'Grave of Opportunity', which I found to be quite interesting with its melodic hooks as well as generally solid riffs. The vocals weren't great and they did kind scream out "metalcore", but they weren't as bad as some other vocals I'd heard. The drumming is solid too. The whole song kind of goes along the same lines, but it just never seems to get old. It's just a great song.
Naturally after hearing that, I felt the need to check out their other stuff. So I listen to the highly acclaimed 'My Will Be Done' with some great expectations. It's interesting enough, but it does feel similar in a lot of ways to 'Grave of Opportunity'. The vocals on this track aren't as good, with weird breaks in-between shouts that don't quite fit. The guitars are cool, but everything else is a little below my expectations.
And that's pretty much how the album goes. Average drums, sub-par vocals and epic guitars (don't know about bass). Every song is kind of the same, from 'Crow Killer' to 'Cutman' to 'My Will Be Done'. Even the song I liked best, 'Grave of Opportunity', sounds along the same lines. It's kind of sad really. They all just go in the order of intro, then heavy bit, then melodic part, then back to heavy bit. It just goes in a circle and it's quite boring after a while. It's just too predictable.
'We Are Anonymous' kind of sounds a little like 'Waste of Skin' by Children of Bodom, only slowed down and just generally toned down until it sounds like a different song. I'm not accusing anyone of copying other people's work here, don't think that, but it just seems lackluster in comparison.
Some of the solos are decent as well, and I do kind of wonder why the guitarists don't just piss off and join a band where they can show their potential. Surely they'd be better served in a melodeath band or somewhere that the rest of the music will fit in with what they can do. Really, they're wasting their time here.
For whatever reason alongside the other tracks that all last three or four minutes, there is a random eleven minute long song on here ('Truth of Consequences'). The intro is pretty good as I kind of expected it to be, and then it trails off like I expected it to. And then the melodic chorus comes in, and you realise that this is just an elongated version of the other tracks. At four minutes, for whatever reason it just fades out. That's it. Done. What the fuck? Then at the five minute mark some static comes on and then at six and a half they decide to start playing again. I don't have the foggiest clue as to why. The rest of the song is just the same as it was before, so I don't get why they needed a two and a half minute long break in the middle. They didn't come up with anything inspiring in that time.
So sadly, this is another write off. It's sad because the individual songs are pretty good, but they're just all exact replicas of each other. It's more repetitive than Dragonforce's 'Sonic Firestorm', so no matter how good one song is the ideas will get boring after a while. I think I'll just stick to listening to that one song by this band, as the ideas don't get old when it's only done once.
I always try everything at least twice. Why not just once ? Well because once isn't enough. You can't grasp everything the first time around. The second time, you should get something new from the experience. Then the third a little something more, and a little something more during the fourth run. But here. Nothing... In fact, this record gets worse every single time you listen to it. Why? Well, for two very obvious reasons. One is the level of predictability and formulaic song-writing. The second is the blatant lack of originality and need to rely on other metal bands to have a personality.
Not trying to be rude, but this album is boring beyond belief for these two reasons.
What I mean by predictability is that anyone with amateur level musical theory knowledge will be able to predict every single hooks, breakdowns, chugging riffs, solos, vocals jumping, riff change before it happens. And I really mean EVERY. Since the time signature and the song-writing formula are the same throughout the whole album, you can easily say after listening to the first track that you've heard the whole album. I'm not even exaggerating here. Here is a little example to demonstrate my point. Usually the track will start by a thrashy metalcorish riff obviously copied from Testament or another successful thrash metal band. The band will then proceed to repeat the riff for 2 bars. Then the riff will be repeated two more times but with the vocals jumping in the second time around. Then the bridge to the chorus comes or maybe you get a chugging riff played for two bars to announce the coming of a breakdown. There isn't usually much work on transition riffs either. To move from riff to riff a simple breakdow, an open-string palm-muted riff or some kind of pseudo-creative lead will play a few notes. Then throw in the chorus, repeat first riff for the next verse, chorus and then end the track.
Saddest part about this album is that the musicians aren't half bad. There is some quality musicianship in this band, but it gets shadowed by the boring, predictable and uninspired song-writing that you can find throughout the album. Sometimes a good riff even pops out, but then it just end up sucking badly like the rest of the stuff they put up because they repeat it 4 or 8 times with slight changed in the lead or in the drum line or maybe with a little variation in the vocals. Every good idea on this album gets destroyed in a matter of seconds. Tracks like We Are Not Anonymous or The March are almost enjoyable if you can stop trying to predict what's coming next. Or damn, even the intro riff of Grave Of Opportunity is pretty catchy and good. But the track as a whole is like a sleeping pill. There is no difference between Avril Lavigne and Unearth when it comes to formulaic song-writing.
About the lack of personality. I have already mentioned it briefly, and other reviewers have done it two. These guys are copycats. When they aren't stalking Testament, they are obviously trying to be August Burns Red and Trivium but a little more on the thrash metal side, maybe to avoid being called a mallcore band... I don't know... Truth is that they could have been a good tribute band if it wasn’t for the boring chugging metalcore riffs they feel the need to thrown in each track or if they didn’t have to be so formulaic and boring.
I still have the album playing in the background as I’m writing this review and from start to finish this album is a disappointment. Yes, a disappointment. Because I was honestly trying to like this album. And from all the good critics and positive feedback I had from friends on this album, I had expectations. Obviously this band has put together some cool modern trash metal riffs and the musicians are rather good. But no matter how hard I try and how many listens I give to this album, I still don’t like it. I’m sorry.
After a long time I lay my hands on a CD from Metal Blade Records, and guess which band’s new album it is! It is UNEARTH’s brand new album "The March"! Remember my review on the band’s previous album? Yeah, it was not such a good album after all. Guess what! "The March" is even worse!
After the downfall of ALL THAT REMAINS, the god of Heavy Metal is determined to prove that the very few Metalcore bands I like suck! UNEARTH were much more aggressive and catchy in the past and had managed to attract the attention of many metalheads with songs like "The Great Dividers", "Zombie Autopilot" and others.
As time goes by, UNEARTH started becoming the classic average Metalcore band with the predictable beatdown breaks and the Heavy/Thrash guitar leads. While listening to "The March" I came across many parts that reminded me of several bands, like for example "Hail The Shrine", which strongly reminded me of TESTAMENT. So, what we have here is a mediocre Metalcore album with decent compositions (for the genre of course) and a really good production. What does this mean? That we are not going to spend any more time on UNEARTH unless they become the brutal war machine they used to be...
Originally written for Metal-Temple.Com
Unearth has been around for a while now. Formed in 1999 and with The March being the band’s fourth album they’ve been around for the start of this whole metal-core wave and been around for the explosion. They’ve also been a bit better than the norm thanks largely to the guitar prowess of Ken Susi and Buzz McGrath.
2008 sees the band release its fourth album The March and there’s a bit of a problem. In the time between their last album a couple of years ago and today, there’s been a damn explosion in this genre with all thought to originality being thrown out of the window and with most bands beginning to sound the same and becoming impossible to tell apart. So now, in 2008, Unearth sound a bit like Walls of Jericho or maybe Walls of Jericho sound a lot like Unearth but any way you look at it, originality is becoming a very scarce commodity.
Case in point is opening song My Will Be Done which sounds like it could have been on The American Dream . The same is true of most of the songs on the album with The March exhibiting the same faceless identikit nature that plagues most bands in this genre. It’s only half way through the album with We Are Not Anonymous going for a power metal feel with some nice guitar leads and The Chosen again showing of some tasty lead playing. The band also have the ability to pull of some kick ass thrash riffs and grooves but these are set against saccharine sweet melodies and come too far apart to save the album.
Unearth needed to make an album that would stand out from the pack and the countless imitators and while there are some new ideas to be found, overall The March sees the band rehashing old ideas and sticking to what’s worked for them in the past. The result is that now Unearth sound just like any one of their thousand lifeless/ soulless imitators.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com
Review origianally published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
Released with relatively little fanfare, Unearth’s fourth studio album shows that this Boston band, while certainly never able to attain the level of magnificence of The Stings of Conscience, is one of the most consistent and predictably satisfying American metal acts around.
The formula, as with like minded act Killswitch Engage, is simple; deft Swedish dual guitar harmonies, hardcore breakdowns and a thrash back bone all wrapped up in a polished and marketable form of metal. That being said, there is an immediate improvement on The March that’s apparent from galloping opener “My Will be Done”; Unearth have finally unleashed guitarists (the underrated) Buzz McGrath and Ken Susi. Solos abound, The March features more sumptuous leads and melodies than the last two offerings, that just seem far more deliberate, melodic and elegant.
Underneath the many, many solos, is Unearth’s robust, expected sound that they have now perfected. Crunchy riffs, Trevor Phipps raspy shout (with no clean croons), John Maggard’s steady bass and Derek Kerwill’s stout drums. But as you listen to standout tracks like “Crow Killer”, “Grave of Opportunity”, “We Are Not Anonymous”, “The March”, “Cutman” and “Truth or Consequence” (though I could have done without the 2 minutes of white noise that proceeds a pretty sturdy hidden track, “Silence Caught The Stubborn Tongue”) which all feature some sort of killer guitar flourish that just adds something special to the already solid material. Not that The Oncoming Storm or Chapter III were bereft of solos or had crappy solos, but there was some filler but on The March something has just fully ‘clicked’, and resulted in a far more dynamic and pleasing album rather than just another Unearth album or American metal album. Also helping, is that producer Adam Adam Dutkiewicz appears to have found a slightly more natural and organic sound for Unearth as opposed to the rigid, over produced, clinical feel of the last two albums. You could construe penultimate ballad “Letting Go” as a negative, but personally it adds a little depth and restraint to the album, though it would have been the perfect endnote to the album. There also seems slightly less reliance on telegraphed breakdowns which will upset the Hot Topic crowd, but it just adds to the more mature feel of the album.
You are hard pressed to find bands that improve their four albums into the game, but somehow Unearth, while certainly a different band from 1999s genre defining debut, appear to have cemented their status as one of the genres most important and steady acts and shown they can improve and develop rather than simply rest on their laurels.
Let's get right into it. From a musical standpoint, this album is nothing short of devastating. Through years of practice and experience, Ken Susi and Buz McGrath have both matured greatly as musicians and songwriters, and The March clearly reflects this growth. Once the opening track "My Will Be Done" kicks in with its tasteful blend of Buz's flowing arpeggios over Ken's simple-yet-effective chugging riffs, there is a high risk of the listener being suddenly overcome with a burning urge to break something. Thankfully, the album's ferocity doesn't burn out after just one song. Other highlights such as "Crow Killer" and "We Are Not Anonymous" are equally powerful and worthy of a good mosh.
Another side effect of years of touring shines through on The March, and that is the influence passed on by many of the bands Unearth has toured with over the years. For example, the three-string arpeggio patterns during the first thirty seconds or so of "Crow Killer" sound almost identical to "Bleeding Mascara" from Atreyu, a band that Unearth has, in Ken Susi's exact words, "done a butt-load of touring with". Also, Ken's flagrant use of the whammy bar during his solo in "My Will Be Done" can be compared to Dimebag Darrell, and wouldn't you know it, Unearth toured with Damageplan back in the day. Other influences can be found particularly in "Grave of Opportunity" and "We Are Not Anonymous". The former's dual harmonies are reminiscent of Ascendency-era Trivium, and the latter's moderately high-tempo scales over Derek Kerswill's steady, driving double-bass even reflect a hint of DragonForce. With this evidence at hand, it is safe to assume that, in addition to being highly competent musicians, the members of Unearth are also very musically diverse and open-minded.
While we're on the subject of the members of Unearth, we may as well get the one thing out of the way that may or may not be The March's only downside. On the last two albums ("The Oncoming Storm" and "In the Eyes of Fire"), Trevor Phipps' vocals have been very defined and extremely powerful. His vocal performance on this album, however, is 50/50. The vocals here seem to lean more in the hardcore direction, with the screams often giving way to plain shouting. On the other hand, as is the case with Corey Taylor of Slipknot's vocals (another band Unearth has done extensive touring with), this makes Phipps' voice sound more natural and not tampered-with, and as a result the actual screams sound even better by comparison. I'll leave that decision to the individual listeners.
In short, this album is by far Unearth's crowning achievement, and with a little tweaking, the next one may very well solidify the band's rightful place amongst the metal masters.
Highlights: "My Will Be Done", "Crow Killer", "We Are Not Anonymous"
Unearth are back with their latest full length offering The March. After hearing the album I can safely say that this is how Unearth should sound.
Unearth's previous release In the Eyes of Fire, while not completely terrible, had too many moments that felt like the band took a lunch break on the majority of the songs they wrote. This Glorious Nightmare, Giles, and So It Goes are solid tracks that show the bands love for technicality and speed but many of the other songs just don't seem that well-thought out. There are too many inconstancies that obscure what the band is trying to accomplish on the tracks themselves.
Skip forward to now and it is apparent the band has learned their lesson. The March is a giant step forward from their previous release boasting a powerful slew of speed and breakdowns that fit together great. Melody also plays an important role and unlike In the Eyes of Fire that tried too hard to focus on technicality without much influence on melody, The March keeps it simple on the technical aspect and allows the flow of the song to do the work for the band. Notable songs such as Grave of Opportunity and Crow Killer are good examples.
Heaviness is plentiful on this release. A number of the tracks influence the just hard they hit you with a barrage of breakdowns and two-steps. If Unearth fans were looking for more instances for an album to break someone's nose to then this is their LP is for them.
All-in-all The March is a solid release after a less-than stellar album that preceded it. While it certainly won't eclipse The Oncoming Storm it more than makes up for what In the Eyes of Fire brought us two years ago. The March does have a few flaws to the song writing but it's quickly overlooked. I would recommend this release to anyone hoping for Unearth to bring us back to the days of their earlier works.