Review Summary: Unearth shows their talents in raw form in their poorly recorded debut release, Stings of Conscience.
Breakdown is a word in the dictionary that has a picture of Unearth
right below it. They apparently have trouble not
incorporating a breakdown into any given song. If it lacks a breakdown, you can bet your as
s it is either an instrumental work, or not Unearth. While in their latter releases it has become tedious and overwhelming at times, it is not so much with their first release. I had known of Unearth ever since this debut release, Stings of Conscience.
When I was a young metal-kid and did not know much else, Unearth were something new to me. I had been listening to bad nu-metal bands or grunge (with a side of Tool, take that as a plus or minus) and this was the first metalcore band I had ever listened to. I saw Unearth live, and I thought playing the guitar on the back of your head was incredible (that is what you believe listening to Mudvayne and Korn. Eww). Regardless, they put out a decent, under produced record that made them the giants they are today.
Wow. Apparently, they recorded this album over in the caves of Afghanistan. This is quite possibly one of the worst recording jobs ever. I mean when you compare the way this CD sounds to their new stuff, this is atrocious. Apparently, they found a couple amps that the treble was the only functioning knob and said, “screw it! Turn it up!!!!” Otherwise, you could hear the bass over the sometimes ear-gouging guitar (see: “My Desire”). I was trying to see if any other album I owned was as bad, and there was no comparison. I have heard local bands having better recordings than this. However, it does not take away from the content, no matter how poorly it sounds at times.
The greatest thing about this record is it does not sound like their new stuff at all. It has nice varieties of sound with less of that breakdown stuff. Sure, it has breakdowns that are not as good, but really, who cares. The songs ultimately sound less forced and more of just a natural progression throughout. They incorporate sweeping arpeggios and fast riffs like in one of the better songs on the record, “Stings of Conscience.” The bass guitar generally accompanies the guitar work and adds little to stray away from what is going on the record. “One Step Away” and “Only the People” are the most notorious songs on the album. They feature adequately placed lead guitar sections and the overall progressions of guitar work is fantastic. Overall, the vocal performance is mediocre. While it is audible, sometimes it is just too much to hear throughout its entirety. The drumming is of good quality (“Shattered by the Sun”), it is nothing compared to the talent of their newest drummer, but it is certainly enjoyable.
This album, Stings of Conscience, is what started Unearth. To be honest, if it were not for the recording, this has the potential to be their best release to date. The song structure is great with a variety of different musical elements. They keep the breakdowns low-key and do not create a momentous build up to indicate its presence. Collectively, if you are looking to see what Unearth evolved from, give it a chance, because songs should not revolve around one word.