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Dazzling - 93%

tiggity, October 23rd, 2008

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"