Review Summary: The best metal album of 2006.Metalcore:
Metalcore is a musical genre consisting of a mix between heavy metal and hardcore punk. The genre has risen in popularity since the turn of the millennium.
This is of course a rather simplistic definition of the genre, but to metal fans around the world, this subgenre is probably the most controversial of them all. While some metal fans may flock to this genre, many others turn their heads in disgust, calling the music "blasphemy", "mallcore" and the list goes on. Some elitist fans of the metal genre won't even call it heavy metal because they're so put off by the new sound of metal. So where do I find myself in this battle of heavy metal fans? I hate not taking sides on debates, but I can't really put myself on either side. There are some bands in the genre that I think are some of the worst musical groups ever formed (Atreyu
and Avenged Sevenfold
, to name a few), but then there are other groups that give metalcore a very positive name and make me still give the genre a chance (All That Remains
and Bleeding Through
). But still, one group in this battlefield of music remains to be the single savior. The diamond in the rough. The cream of the crop.
Unearth is that group.
So how can this album possibly be that good? It's in a dying genre that didn't start off that strong in the first place. Well, it's complicated really. In short, these guys just write incredibly catchy, well crafted metal songs that just make me want to listen to them time and time again. If you're familiar with their past album, The Oncoming Storm, you'd know that this group's sound is rather heavy and borders along being almost traditional heavy metal. The only thing that really kept them in the metalcore world was the fact that this group loves to include one thing really vital to their sound. When used correctly, it can be the most brutal and beautiful thing used in metal. It can start an insanely violent mosh pit in mere seconds and can leave your neck incredibly sore once it's all through. Of course, there are instances when the breakdown can become really old and boring... leave it to Unearth to perfect the fine art of the breakdown. They really know how to incorporate it into their songs frequently without making them seem trite. It's really amazing how they can do it.
So now that a little bit of a background has been presented, let's move on to the musicality of the album, shall we? The band is mainly driven by the twin guitar insanity of Ken Susi
and Buz McGrath
. The last album was enough to keep me pleased for many listens, but the group just didn't want to quit there. These two really pushed the limit on this album and have created by far their best work to date. The two of them trade off their harmonized leads and fretboard acrobatics off flawlessly, while still bringing in a good ol' breakdown to tear your face off in the meantime. But wait, there's more! Ken and Buz are starting to bring back more traditional elements of heavy metal to their sound by addingmuch better guitar solos then they have in the past! The soloing is more than just mindless shred; they contain plenty of emotion and feeling and deliver just what the band needed to create what I consider to be a classic release.
The rest of the band does just what they need to do as well, but don't get as much attention as the guitars do in my opinion. While that's not really a bad thing, it's still noticeable to those who are vocalists, bassists, and drummers. Bass player Jon Maggard
isn't exactly the most audible person in the band, but he does what is necessary for the group by providing a thick, low end that the guitar players can base their rapid-fire riffing off of. Metalcore drumming is also known to be quite speedy, so Mike Justian
does just that. The entire album is filled with his swift double bass drum patterns, blazing fills and an pounding rhythms. Once again, it's ideal for the band. While the bass and drums stayed relatively the same from the last album, the vocals (and lyrics especially) have taken a turn for the better. Trevor Phipps
' voice, while staying similar to his past style, is just more powerful than in the past, and his annoying clean vocals are only but a sore memory at this point. His lyrics are also way better than they were on past albums. They're creative, catchy, and really powerful. I'm totally impressed with what improvement this entire group has made in just two short years.
The songs are as follows:
1. This Glorious Nightmare
- This song captures everything great about the band. Just read everything positive I listed about this album and you'll find it in this song.
- The first song leaked from this album, and it's also possibly my favorite. The lead guitar parts are simply amazing, along with Trevor's powerful lyrics, crushing breakdowns, and so much more. This should be heard by every metal fan.
3. March of the Mutes
- Some lead guitar work kicks off similar to that of bands like Iron Maiden until the rest of the group commences with their now familar style of playing. While this song isn't one of the best, it's certainly ear catching as always and is still a good mark on the album.
4. Sanctity of Brothers
- Aside from maybe Giles, this is the best song on the album. In short, this song is simply loaded with the band's thrashiest and most incredible riffs ever played by Unearth, along with more great lyrics and vocals. This is another song I think everyone should hear.
5. The Devil Has Risen
- It's no surprise by the title of this song that this track is out to kick your ass. This song is quite a breakdown-fest, also accompanied with lightning-fast low end riffs and other impressive parts. A great song for trash and metalcore fans alike.
6. This Time Was Mine
- Showing off more incredible guitar skill, this track features lead guitar work similar to that of a group like Symphony X. This is just another prime example of the band's talent. Other than the impressive lead parts, this song isn't anything new you haven't heard already.
- At this point some people might begin to be put off, as this album is starting to repeat itself. I can't help but like this song because I really dig the band's sound, but some people might think this song is only average. The end of the song is saved, however, by some unexpected clean guitar parts and cool drum beats. It's nice to see that these guys know when to change things up.
8. So It Goes
- Just like Unearth's last album, this release has the "single" song. The catchy lead guitar parts and empowering lyrics make this song another great listen, and it's also nice to hear something new from the rest of the album. Oh yeah, did I mention that this song contains the group's best guitar solo to date? This is another strong suggestion from me.
9. Impostors Kingdom
- Since the last track was a bit lighter, this track kicks off with the heaviest stuff on the album so far. This song may seem less mature than their other material, but sometimes it's just good to have a song that you can't help to headbang to just because of it's mindless anger. This is sadly one of the weaker songs on here.
10. Bled Dry
- What's to be said about this song that hasn't already been said before? In short, this song just contains some more impressive guitar work, inspiring solos, lyrics, and the list just goes on. The drums also play a couple of cool grooves here and there, until the end of the song just unloads on you with what could be one of the best breakdowns of all time. Waiting until the end of this song is certainly worth it.
11. Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos
- Just like The Oncoming Storm, this album has an instrumental song on here. While this didn't really end the album on the strongest of notes, it's still a solid track that even has some piano parts included to give the closing track an intimate and beautiful feel. It's a weird way to end the album, but not really a bad one.
In conclusion: You need this album. It's the best metalcore album to date and I might even be so bold as to say it will be the album of the year.
This Glorious Nightmare
Sanctity of Brothers
So It Goes
...but you really need the whole thing.
This is the stuff dreams are made of. This is metal. This is Unearth.
Final Rating: 5/5