Darkness In The Light
5 July 2011
by Tom Dare
Metalcore’s history is littered with inconsistency, none more so than the founding Massachusetts clans. Those responsible for early great albums were struck with the law of diminishing returns, as formulaic steadiness set in, or great songs were never backed up with strength in depth. Unearth, however, continue to buck this trend on album number five.
You know where Unearth are stylistically by now – melody and shred from the Gothenburg lot, groove and shred from Pantera (they really like their shred, in case you haven’t noticed before) and those breakdowns that are an endless source of internet butthurt. And while some bands have, in recent years, used the latter as an excuse for shoddy song writing, Unearth’s have always been powerful, an integral part of the music and made you want to move- and even after a decade they still shit all over practically everyone in that department.
Unearth’s continued ability to produce strong material is perhaps helped by one element absent from their past outings. Killswitch Engage records have everyone out looking for a new ‘The End Of Heartache‘ or ‘My Last Serenade‘, but Trevor Phipps’ natural roar has rarely let up, and no one is standing around waiting for the Big Emotional Chorus. The band’s ability to slowly evolve hasn’t been hampered by the need to come up with hooks for those vocal lines. So at first it seems a little odd when one of those Big Emotional Choruses initially appears. Quickly though they slide right in, complementing the tone of the songs where they are sparingly used, melding nicely with the lyrical leads.
The Big Emotional Choruses are balanced out beautifully by a smattering of blast beats, some devastating breakdowns, double kick drums coming up to your eyes, aggressive guitar work coupled with throat ripping vocals and even a riff that’s out of the extreme canon. This isn’t the sound of a band compromising, it’s simply an evolution.
Watch Buz McGrath shred. Our fingers hurt just watching:
There’s a slight “but” coming, sadly. Darkness In The Light does fall victim to that hideous word “consistent”, and in this case also doubled with “there aren’t really those enormous head-turning songs”. The songs are strong, but you can’t pick out the album’s ‘Crow Killer‘ or ‘Zombie Autopilot‘. Darkness In The Light will still eat for breakfast the staggering majority of albums from bands who owe a kidney, bollock and half their liver to Unearth for their very existence, but the Top tracks bit below is a less emphatic triad of tunes than Unearth’s absolute best.
Sounds like: Shadows Fall, All That Remains, At The Gates
Top tracks: Watch It Burn, Shadows In The Light, Last Wish
Unearth – Darkness In The Light tracklisting:
Watch It Burn
Ruination Of The Lost
Shadows In The Light
Eyes Of Black
Arise The War Cry
Coming Of The Dark