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Their best since Stings - 87%

Lustmord56, November 5th, 2008

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.