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Solid metalcore, and Unearth's best album - 81%

BlackMetal213, August 11th, 2015

Metalcore is definitely seen as the AIDS of the metal community for a lot of people, and it's quite easy to see why. A genre loaded with generic, boring, and "emo" bands, metalcore sits alongside nu metal and it's younger brother deathcore as one of the most hated sub-genres of metal. Reasons for this include, but are not limited to, the breakdowns, whiny lyrics, and an emphasis on style and personal appearance over the quality of the actual music. Unearth isn't a band talked about as much when discussing the genre. In fact, in my opinion, they are one of the better bands the genre has to offer. "Darkness in the Light" is the band's fifth full-length album and was released in 2011. This is their best album and really, for me, the only other albums to come close to this are "The Oncoming Storm" and "III: In the Eyes of Fire". The other three albums are also decent but I will take "Darkness in the Light" as their magnum opus.

This album doesn't really bring too much to the table that we haven't experienced with Unearth before. It is a very well-produced modern metal album. The guitars are loud and extremely clear, clean, and heavy. In terms of melodies and general catchiness, this album is quite an upgrade from anything the bands had done previously. Every song contains riffs from what can be described as the "Holy Book of Swedish melodic death metal". The Gothenburg influence throughout the nearly 40-minute album is extremely clear. If it wasn't for the work of At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity, metalcore would not exist as we know it. This is both a good and bad thing. The good aspect of metalcore is the evident mix of melodic death metal. However, the bad aspect lies again with the laughable image and personality of a lot of the bands, as well as the controversial breakdowns. This band is no stranger to using breakdowns and, on this album, they continue this tradition. At certain times, these breakdowns add a lot of inconsistency. Songs like "Watch it Burn", "Ruination of the Lost", and "Eyes of Black" are extremely good tracks with loads of melody, and the latter two even containing some impressive guitar solos. These melodic riffs are unfortunately interrupted at times with these chugging breakdowns that are extremely predictable but somewhat awkward in nature. Thankfully, the otherwise highly effective music helps minimize the effect of these breakdowns. One of my personal favorites on this album is "The Fallen". It's not really different from any of the other songs with its melodic riffs and standard solo, but the riffs are very catchy and memorable, and the solo is effectively followed with a clean passage that really breaks up the chaos quite well. I just wish there was a bit more variation because on the first or second listen, these songs do all sound fairly similar.

I've never been a huge fan of Trevor Phipps' vocals. He basically utilizes the "hardcore shout" and a style of harsh vocals that resemble yelling. This really doesn't fit metal as well as it fits hardcore. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course, but it just doesn't fit the style of music for me. If he had utilized a more guttural melodic death metal style, I would have enjoyed this album a bit more. This album also makes use of a stereotypical style of clean vocals. These show up notably in tracks such as "Watch it Burn", "Shadows in the Light", and "Overcome". I definitely don't mind clean vocals and they can be very effective when used properly. On this album, whoever performs these vocals just sounds odd to me. I'm not sure who sings them, but they sound somewhat auto tuned and irritating to me. This is a problem I have with a lot of metalcore. The vocals overall are a huge dent in the quality of the album for me, and are one element of Unearth I've never enjoyed.

"Darkness in the Light". This album certainly is the best output from the bros in Unearth. I was not as impressed with the album that would follow, "Watchers of Rule", but nonetheless, I definitely recommend this album to a fan of metalcore. Especially ones who want to get into the more metal side of the genre. This is definitely much more metal than core. It's flawed, sure, but still an enjoyable release. Go ahead and check it out for yourself!