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A landmark in modern metalcore - 99%

raspberrysoda, August 5th, 2016

This album kicks major ass. Most metalcore bands today don't have the testosterone, the balls, the top tier musicianship, the lyrics, or a The Oncoming Storm in their discography. It is that good.

The albums that come in mind when listening to this album the most from that period are definitely Killswitch Engage's Alive or Just Breathing and Lamb of God's Ashes of the Wake. It has elements of melodic metalcore, melodic death metal, thrash metal, and groove metal- which immediately bring the term "good melodic riffing" to mind- which the album is infested with. Go match and lame modern mallcore riffs to the riffs of Unearth- and this album shows them in their full pride. Black Hearts Now Reign, Failure, Zombie Autopilot, and Predetermined Sky are just brief examples of what's going in the album. The riffing is all over here, and there is no weak guitar or bass one in the entire album. Most of them are Gothenburgy-melodic, but don't sound like they were ripped from the melodeath bands Unearth were inspired by. There are even solos here, which are scattered throughout the album and add to its musical variety.

Aside from the energetic riffing, the vocals are really great too. There is a trend among modern metalcore bands to have whiny clean and harsh vocals, but not Unearth- because of them being a part of the pinnacle of modern metalcore, and for the band having to show the correct way of playing the genre, the screams are very intense and the rarely used cleans here are very strong and emotive- which none are whiny, nor weak, nor fall out of quality in the entire duration of the album. The lyrics in this album even have a meaning to them! It's a pretty rare thing not to sing about teen angst as a metalcore band, but instead, the band sings about politics and war. And when they are written so well and are preformed by a band like this it definitely adds to the album. There's even a piano driven song here, which has a very depressing atmosphere and is accompanied by some of the most harrowing metalcore screams ever.

Another integral part of modern metalcore, is you guess, breakdowns. Either you don't do them, or you do them tastefully- and Unearth chose the second option. The breakdowns in the songs This Lying World, Black Hearts Now Reign, and Lie To Purify for example, are really solid, strong, and not overused or repetitive, which is also a rare thing among modern metalcore bands. And all of them are tastefully used, even though there's one in almost every song. The production here is also really heavy and adds volume to the album. It isn't flat and overly clean like the genre is, but instead, it's very dirty but very proffesional too. It makes every instrument stand out- either the pummeling drums, or the kickass riffing, or the harsh vocals.

Overall, this is one of the best metalcore albums ever fucking made period, and provides a pinnacle in the metalcore genre, and I guess that heights like this album reached will remain untouched for a long time. Mandatory for every metalcore fan, and very recommended for melodeath/melothrash fans too.

Marketing Unoriginality Since 1998 - 37%

DawnoftheShred, January 20th, 2008

Of all the Shadows Fall clones to emerge this decade, Unearth have acquired the most scene credentials; they’ve played Ozzfest and they’re regularly mentioned among the best bands of the “new wave of American heavy metal.” Of course, it doesn’t take half a mind to discern that genre label as a marketing ploy for shitty American metalcore. And as far as making shitty American metalcore, Unearth are indeed very good at it. But how far can a band go when they lack originality to this band’s degree? Apparently pretty far: these guys are still riding high on the scene’s coattails.

The Oncoming Storm is there second release and though it is heads and tails above their shameful debut, it’s not really much different. Unearth are a band that is metalcore to the bone, which results in an output that is highly divided in nature. In one hand they brandish metal: they’ll have fast, brutally heavy passages that are up to par with many of the modern thrash and death metal bands, in addition to those harmonized melody leads that, while predictable, are nonetheless pleasing to the ear. And then in the other hand they uphold the other half of their dual nature, the –core. For every fast, thrashy riff sequence, there’s an equal and opposite one in the form of gratuitous breakdowns, to the disappointed sighs and shaking of heads of all who have to suffer through them. I don’t care if they’re competent musicians or not, they’re wasting the listener’s time with most of this. The drummer is talented, but constantly stomps his double bass pedals like everyone else in the scene who think that speedy double bass playing is the apex of percussive ability, not to mention brutality. The guitarists are talented, but their solos are amateurish. Repeated, melodic arpeggio lines can make anyone look like a shredder, apparently. Is there a bass player? I couldn’t tell. The only one who genuinely sucks is the vocalist, whose hardcore screaming is fucking terrible. At times his style borders on mallcore, especially when his vocals are distorted.

But skill or no skill, the strength of the songs is the true test of a band’s merit. And this is why Unearth truly suck. The Oncoming Storm features eleven tracks, but only one song. Every track features the same godawful metalcore elements mentioned above, as well as the mandatory Shadows Fall worship that this band was founded upon and an absurd amount of redundancy. The one track is a short keyboard based number with diminished vocal presence, but I hardly consider it a complete song. Even Lamb of God aren’t this damned repetitive.

To conclude, an unopened LP copy of this album can be found in one of my area’s small used music shops. It was there when I first discovered the store and, if the world remains on course, it will be there for a long, long time. Seems there’re other patrons that aren’t willing to waste money on this shit. So don’t worry if you think this is trash, you’re in good company.

Inconsistent And Repetitive - 50%

Fatal_Metal, November 18th, 2005

This band is better than most metalcore band's out there, that's for sure. Yet, Unearth songs are similar and the vocals are really one-dimensional even though they are better than the normal metalcore vocals. The band sometimes switches to the awful ditch-the-riff-go-for-the-breakdown style but they on the whole have some nice melodic riffs and are very much in the upper echelons of metalcore.

Musically, the guitar sounds great here - There are some nice melodic riffs and good leads but the breakdowns are irritating. The vocals are one-dimensional but this guy doesn't try for the gay clean style that so many metalcore bands try for. Instead of the clean sections though, there's a lot of semi-clean whispering in this album that although not as irritating as the clean vocals, is pretty damn irritating as well. The drum patterns are well done and this guy's balanced his double bass use.

For flaws, I can point out three critical flaws. First, the stupid whispering sections and one-dimensional vocals. Then, the breakdowns these guys do very often which are nothing but bad. The songwriting definitely needs improvement, the band plays tight but songs tend to sound similar.

On a song level, there's only one song here that totally rules - Zombie Autopilot. Zombie Autopilot has an awesome melodic intro riff and some superbly done twin leads. Yes, the band really shines there and they never capture that moment of fame again. The disc starts off well with "The Great Dividers" which starts off with a great riff has some decent breakdowns and an awful whispering section at the near end. "Failure" has some good solos but some unintelligent breakdowns - The band seems to have an identity crisis whether to be Melo-death or Hardcore. "This Lying World" has a good solo and is largely mediocre. "Black Hearts Now Reign" is a good song with a great melody to it. "Zombie Autopilot" as I said is this disc's best song - totally awesome twin leads and a good vocal performance even if that "All things are lost" section is flawed as hell. With "Zombie Autopilot" the disc commits suicide by just overdoing the breakdowns, "Endless" sounds just like Hatebreed and the rest are no different. "Aries" never really gets itself going. The disc doesn't even go out in a burst of glory as I thought it would as "False Idol" is just plain Hardcore rubbish.

In conclusion, this disc really has two sides to it. "Aries" is the only song that seems out-of-place here (and it makes it no better) but songs 1-5 are Melo-death with Hardcore influences and songs 5-11 (Except "Aries") are Hardcore with Melo-death influences. Metalcore fans would probably enjoy this but for a metal fan there are only two good tracks, one amazing track and two decent tracks on it among eleven tracks and that's pretty low. Unearth seem to be confused whether to be Melo-death or Hardcore but they have a lot of potential to improve.

Pretty Inconsistent. - 70%

Justin_Bork, May 18th, 2005

*reviewing the '05 reissue*

Unearth's second is pretty good in general. It has all the makings of a good metal album, leads, rhythm, heaviness, solos ect, but it doesn't have very good song writing I'm afraid. Aside from four songs which haul completely, the rest of this album is pretty much background music. The four songs which are good, are really good. Album opener 'The Great Dividers' is a crushing, 'take no prisoners' kind of song, 'Zombie Autopilot' which seems to be a tribute to In Flames (Zombie Inc.) is soaring and features an amazing dual lead solo, and 'The Charm' (A re-record) has a great flying lead and is pretty heavy. And 'Predetermined Sky' is another melodic crushfest. Also here is an (you guessed it..) a soft instrumental 'Aries' but like most metalcore bands, Unearth goes for a piano interlude as opposed to a folky acoustic number, it's quite nice.

The rest of this album is pretty hit or miss, gothenburg influenced Metalcore. While some of the songs are decent, none of them are very special, though. Nothing here to convert fans to Metalcore. Unearth's earlier work is better for the most part (at least in my opinion), also here is a re-record of 'One Step Away', but the original sounds better, the cleaner production of the re-record doesn't do the riffage justice.

So inconclusion, I wouldn't recommend the album, but I would definetly recommend the aformentioned songs, as they rule. Hopefully Unearth steps it up in the song writing department on the next release, as their debut 'The Stings of Conscience' is proof that they have the skills.

Recomended listening: The Great Dividers, Zombie Autopilot, The Charm, Predetermined Sky.