Review Summary: Unearth's third album is a nearly flawless example of metalcore at its best, with another solid helping of breakdowns.
Unearth have really struck a chord with yours truly. I recently reviewed The March and found it to be just yet another in Unearth's mostly stellar catalogue of metalcore recordings. III: In the Eyes of Fire is perhaps better than both The Oncoming Storm and their latest ambition, being absolutely chock-full of terrific riffs and destructive breakdowns. With vocalist Trevor Phipps' wailing shout fronting the band, guitarists Ken Susi and Buzz McGrath firing off flaming riffs one after another, and bassist John Maggard and drummer Mike Justian (formerly of The Red Chord) providing reliable rhythm background, the album confronts with a wall of inescapable sound that pulls you in by the throat and doesn't let go. From start to finish, this album will get you moving, thrashing, smashing, headbanging, just about anything that you would expect from a good metal album.
The album begins with a machine-gun style snare drum roll by Mike. The album then explodes into an incredible riff and Trevor blasts his way through a verse. This pummeling is "This Glorious Nightmare", everything that you would expect and hope for in a metal opener. Ear-splintering drumming, rapid-fire riffing, and high energy all the way through. Sprinkled throughout are Unearth's trademark breakdowns, coming to a climax at the end with Trevor screaming the line, "Tear Me Down!", over and over until its burned into your memory. "This Glorious Nightmare" is everything this album stands for, and more. But wait, it gets better. "Giles" is the next track, and it begins with a scream from Trevor and an even better riff than the one that began the album. Fantastic guitar work is littered all over this entire song, harmonized leads and all. At about 55 seconds in, one of the best breakdowns I've heard enters the fray. With Trevor screaming, "Crushed by the fear, more stone, more stone, more weight for Corey!", if you don't headbang to this, you probably have been through that diabolical torture machine in The Princess Bride. This track is based on the story of Giles Corey, who was a farmer who was pressed to death by stones when he refused to plead to witchcraft. This is one of the best metalcore songs out there and it should be heard by anybody even remotely interested in Unearth, or metalcore in general, its THAT good. "March of the Mutes" steps up next and begins with a very Maidenesque harmonized intro. The song winds its way through more head-detaching breakdowns and grinding riffs and shouts. Another rather strong offering.
Coming in fourth is "Sanctity of Brothers", which hits you in the face with a riff that is perhaps better than the stellar material on "Giles". It seems to have a trait that makes you want to start windmilling furiously. The verses and chorus are filled with more amazing material. The chorus contains harmonized melodic lines which sound absolutely amazing. Another track that everyone interested in metalcore should listen to. Tracks 5 through 7 all contain more excellent, ripping guitar licks and great drum work from Mike. "The Devil Has Risen" is a thunderous, thrashy number and continues the trend of more ear-shattering riffs and catastrophic breakdowns. "This Time Was Mine" has an excellent intro and contains some frantic melodic leads and "Unstoppable" contains one of the best breakdowns on the record. So far, the CD has yet to really disappoint. The next two tracks, "So It Goes" and "Bled Dry" are more highlight-worthy material. The former is highly melodic and at about halfway through, features the best solo the band has ever accomplished along with some of Trevor's best vocal work yet. Ken and Buzz trade off shredding for an extended period in this display of speed and finesse. The latter is a mosher which contains awesome riffs and possibly the best breakdowns on the album (contending with "Giles"), all culminating at the end with a punch-throwing worthy crusher. Unfortunately, sandwiched in between, the 10th track, "Impostors Kingdom", is the album's lone weak-spot. At this point, Trevor's vocal performance seems to falter and many of the riffs begin to sound similar to ones earlier in the CD. Finally, the album closes out with the melancholic instrumental, "Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos", which demonstrates John's prowess on the piano and provides a peaceful, quiet closer to a furious album.
Trevor's vocal performance is rather monotonous throughout the album. That being said, his shouting seems to bring the emotion out in many of the songs and suits it perfectly. His lyrics are also terrific, you won't find many shallow "I'm so tough, be the sh*t out of me, if you can" lines here. A reliable performance overall behind the mic.
The guitarists are really the highlight of this album. Both Ken and Buzz create absolutely juicy riffs all over the place and it is really a joy to the ears (the term "eargasm" may come to you at times). The solo in "So It Goes" is positively great and riffs in "Sanctity of Brothers", "This Glorious Nightmare" and "Giles" are among the best I've heard in the past 10 years (yup, their THAT good). Incredible guitar licks run all over this album and they both do it without spreading wankery all over the place, transporting the listener to a world of near pure catharsis. Just amazing overall.
The rhythm section of John and Mike is perfectly capable of keeping up with both Buzz and Ken. Mike Justian is superior to new drummer, Derek Kerswill, in many ways, even though Derek is no slouch. Lightning-speed fills and spectacular snare drum work highlight his performance, as well as a well above-average double bass. Bassist John is rather inaudible (The raw production by Terry Date didn't seem to help this much). However, he really shines on the closing instrumental, playing a piano with surprising ability.
Overall, this album is one of the finest metalcore recordings I've had the pleasure to listen to. The riffs are often downright orgasmic and just throw you into the pit and don't let you out. Drumming is top-notch and Trevor's vocals really adds to the aggression. The only flaws are the lack of bass (c'mon producers the bass is important!), the lack of change in the vocals outside of the odd spoken word and the fact that "Impostors Kingdom" just doesn't seem to live up to the rest of the album. In conclusion, however, this is a metalcore essential and shows all of the positives of the genre in 44 minutes and "Giles" may be a candidate for metal song of 2006 (I kid you not). III: In the Eyes of Fire gets a 4 out of 5
i think all unearth is meh. i might be stupid, but how is this any different from bleeding through (san the keyboard, right)? if their new one is getting 1.5's to minimal 2's, i dont see why unearth is any better. production, check. blast beats/somewhat contructive drum work, check. mediocre vocals/scream, check. soooo, same thing to me imo.
and about the live show ^^^, ive been to about 10 different shows where unearth was the headliner and i probably left 6/10 of them early in their set due to boredom, or didnt even stick around to catch their set at all. again, just total and utter blah/meh...
Unearth is one of the better live shows I've ever seen, and I've been to well over 100 concerts. They're a lot different than Bleeding Through, but if you're not into metalcore why even bother listening to them? It would be like me saying all techno/electronica sounds the same (which it does, to me), but I'm not a fan of the genre.
Unearth has amazingly catchy and technical guitar riffs and solos, which Bleeding Through does not have. Their lyrics are COMPLETELY different than Bleeding Through, and they sport a more traditional hardcore vibe than does Bleeding Through. The drummer on this album employs shitloads of interesting fills, which you don't find on that many metalcore records of this variety, and the production is infinitely superior. I mean, they're in the same genre, from the same era, so to the untrained ear I can definitely see how you'd think they're similar, but Unearth is 10x better than Bleeding Through in my opinion. Plus, you have to take into account that this album was released 4 years earlier than the new one from Bleeding Through.
"if their new one is getting 1.5's to minimal 2's, i dont see why unearth is any better"
Inveigh, good insight. I just never cared too much for either of them. Unearth has always been an MTV metal band imo. I always listened to slightly more underground stuff. Even when their first one came out and I was in college i didn't really get into it. Its just the scene that these bands are associated with.
clearly unearth has more technical guitars, much more impressive melodies and song structures. I know this. Everyone does, i just don't think that they are 4 worthy imo.
it's like lamb of god... that's who i associate this with, and it's just not something im really into. id sit through carnifex, veil of maya, the ghost inside and stray from the path, and be at the bar when unearth gets on.
fair enough asaf, I can respect that. I've been into metalcore for about a decade now, and grew up listening to stuff like Poison the Well, Shai Hulud, old Killswitch, old Lamb of God, Unearth, Every Time I Die etc. and only more recently got into the Converge, Botch, Coalesce side of things. So, I can see that coming from a different perspective how this wouldn't be as appealing.
edit: Veil of Maya, really? they're much more generic/derivative than Unearth to me. Maybe it's just bc they're from my area and I know the guys (nice guys and all of course), but they seem more like bandwagon hoppers to me. Kinda rode Dead To Fall's coat tails, only made it more deathcore (in the Chicago scene I mean).
it had an appealing meshuggah-esque approach that i got into a few years ago when i found out about them..
i started out listening to typical kid stuff like pantera, slayer, megadeth, 311 and reel big fish thrown in there when i was 10. i got into hatebreed at 14 and converge thereafter and after tear from the red came out and that sophomore etid release, it was all over and off into the cross over.
i mean, im 24 now, i was 16 when i got my first black eye at a bury your dead show in a garage behind the lot of a tattoo parlor. just recently i got one at that unearth show in gramercy theatre in new york. from there its been a good ride seeing everything cross over combining genres and watching in what strange places the blast beat turns up next.
huh, sounds like we actually had a fairly similar musical progression. I'm 24 too (25 in a couple months) and yeah, between 10 and 14 I listened to a lot of Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, Rage Against the Machine and rap (Wu-Tang, Do or Die, Bone Thugz etc) and once I got into high school got into Poison the Well, Hatebreed, metalcore/NWOAHM in general and Swedish melodeath bands (In Flames, Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates).
I don't think I started listening to Unearth until about a year after The Stings of Conscience came out and I loved the shit out of that album. So, I've just kinda been a fan ever since. Definitely didn't care much for The March though, outside of the guitar work being incredibly shreddy.
I'm not that far ahead of you, the only one you could really add to that was the 90s blues/southern/groove metal scene (unless you count alt/grunge, but that's not really metal). By that I mean Pantera, Corrosion of Conformity, 90s Metallica, Clutch, Crowbar etc. And maybe melodeath too, that was a mid-90s thing, but it seems like you were referring to American movements. By the time I was 10, thrash was basically dead.
yeah, I rarely, if ever, listen to melodeath anymore. Haven't probably in 4 or 5 years. Slaughter of the Soul is pretty good, and I'll pop on old In Flames or Soilwork occasionally for about 2-3 songs, but that's basically the extent of it.