Review: Unearth – “Darkness in the Light” (Metal Blade Records)

UNEARTH is back and in case you didn’t get the memo, play time is over. They were at the forefront of modern metal and helped invent and popularize metalcore when no one else was doing it. Then all the copycats came and rather than be lumped in with the bandwagon jumpers, they switched up their style. The resulting change yielded solid and occasionally great music, but something was always missing. Now back to the style that made The Oncoming Storm a modern classic comes their new record, ready to stomp the competition into submission and serve notice to all in their way.

From the very start of opening track “Watch It Burn” the sound of the band is unmistakably classic UNEARTH. Energized songs chock full of crazy guitar melodies, tasteful breakdowns and plenty of mosh pit fodder the song is a great start to these proceedings. Vocalist Trevor Phipps turns in some of his sickest screaming since the start of this band and we’re only talking about the first song here. When guitarist Ken Susi lays down a melodic backing vocal part and it’s followed up by a crushing groove, it becomes 2003 all over again in my ears.  “Ruination” kicks off with a chugging thrash guitar line that will have you pumping your fist in the air and smiling. The power groove during the verse is pure badassery. There are plenty of great riffs courtesy of Susi and his partner in crime Buz McGrath while the drumming was handled by Justin Foley (KILLSWITCH ENGAGE/BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED). Although not a permanent member Foley definitely improves the rhythmic quality of the album over his predecessor. The song’s ending mosh part is a brutal, epic piece of music. Third track “Shadows in the Light” is a great slice of classic sounding metalcore with three guitar solos that will knock your balls off. This song has yet another throwback chorus part full of graceful melody and harshness at the same time. Fourth track “Eyes of Black” may be the hardest song the band has ever produced with a main riff that will tear you a new asshole.  Phipps again doing some of his best work ever shifting between his hardcore screams and his death metal bellow. “Last Wish” is another cut with a stomping groove, snaking riffs and crazy blast beats. The awesome sing-a-long parts are huge as are the solos. Many of these songs seem just made to be played live and I do hope we get a good dose of them when the band hits the road this summer.  “Arise the War Cry” is my favorite cut here and is easily one of the bands’ best ever. From a technical standpoint it is a pretty flawless, pure metal and catchy too. For a change of pace a delicate piano and more cool guitar work highlight the contemplative, but still heavy “Equinox”. Then they ratchet things back up to full speed with “Coming of the Dark” and “The Fallen”. As if by design all of the songs are relatively short, make their point and leave rather than regurgitate parts. Unearth has made a monster comeback record even though they didn’t really need to since they never really went away in the first place.

RATING: 9.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/unearthofficial