Darkness In The Light

Written by: AP on 07/09/2011 14:55:14

The one trait no one can ascribe to Unearth is inconsistency. Since 1998 the band has shaped and immortalized the sound of modern metalcore with a formidable commitment, never straying to please the masses. Even though newcomers to the Unearth institution will be able to scribble down an enormous number of bands that sound similar, it stands clear that almost none have been able to replicate this influential sound to any comparable degree, thus affording Unearth a status as true pioneers. Given the band's unwavering dedication to maintaining a distinct core sound, it would be foolish, then to expect any large deviation from previous efforts on this latest opus, "Darkness in the Light".

Indeed, the album is essentially a continuation of "The March", just as that album was a continuation of "III: In the Eyes of Fire", and so on. It provides metalcore in its purest, most original form, exploring regions of the genre bordering on melodic death metal and thrash. So much is clear from the fantastic lead that brings in "Watch It Burn" atop pummeling double pedals, and again from the Gothenburg style melodies of "Ruination of the Lost". Although both are aired in the opening duo, breakdowns and clean vocals remain the exception rather than the norm, in stark contrast with the bulging majority of bands that we refer to as metalcore today. Unearth prefer to keep things fast and heavy, and to shade their sound with a melodic nuance - both "Shadows in the Light" and "Eyes of Black" unleash this combination with ferocious force reminiscent of the late Himsa and, for a more actual reference, the band's Welsh kinsmen in Anterior - leaving guitarist Ken Susi's clean vocals to a rare and truly backing role next to Trevor Phipp's petrifying growls.

But while the instrumental virtuosity and songwriting prowess of Unearth stands second to none, there is no denying that the band sometimes has trouble differentiating their own songs, and indeed albums, from one another. The dilemma is inevitable due to the band's unwillingness to stray too far from their established niche, and abundantly clear in the occasional recycling of riffs. Case in point: the main staccato riff that immediately follows the lead in "Ruination of the Lost" is an almost exact copy of that heard on "Sanctity of Brothers" (from "III: In the Eyes of Fire"). But even so, there are fortunately also plenty of remedies for such miscalculations: the astounding sweep and tap scales of "Arise the War Cry" will wipe you off your feet, and towards the end of the album, "The Fallen" mesmerizes with another beautiful lead courtesy of Buz McGrath, while thrash anthem "Overcome" lobs out a powerful, memorable chorus, in three of the absolute highlights of the album.

So while the enormous following that Unearth's 13 year career has spawned is unlikely to find much innovation or progress on "Darkness in the Light", they will surely celebrate it as another glorious achievement in the consistency that has become the trademark of Unearth. The musicianship is sublime, a benchmark for incorporating both skill and soul into technical music. If like me you've grown more than just tired of repetitive, frigid metalcore in which image and trends are valued over quality of substance, then "Darkness in the Light" might restore your faith in the genre.


Download: Watch It Burn, Ruination of the Lost, Arise the War Cry, The Fallen, Overcome
For the fans of: Anterior, Himsa, Shadows Fall
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.07.2011
Metal Blade Records

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