Review Summary: Consistency prevails once again
The first adjective to come to mind when discussing the lengthy, illustrious career that Bostonian metalcore band Unearth is consistent; that they’ve always been consistent, almost to a fault. Despite this, they rarely became stale in the eyes of their fanbase, as their consistency ensured a baseline level of quality that was met time and time again. This is not to say there hasn’t been stylistic evolution for the quintet; 2011’s Darkness In the Light
dabbled with more clean vocal passages, only to be followed by their most relentless release yet, this being Watchers of Rule.
Aside from those minor shifts over the years, the band has stayed a stalwart in the metalcore genre for well over a decade. Extinction[s]
is not much different in this regard, as their consistency plays as large of a role now as it did during the days of III: In the Eyes of Fire
and The March.
One notable distinction that Unearth has been able to make with this album is its overall riffage. Considering The Acacia Strain’s own Daniel “DL” Laskewicz was given a writing credit on five songs, it’s not hard to understand why. While Extinction[s]
cannot compare to Watchers of Rule
in terms of overall aggression or even quality as a whole, they still succeed in creating an engaging, hard-hitting metal album. Opener “Incinerate” kicks the album off on the right foot with its driving groove established by guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi as well as drummer Nick Pierce, with tracks like “Dust”, “Cultivation of Infection” and “Survivalist” following similar suit. In typical Unearth fashion, breakdowns are aplenty, being especially notable on tracks like “King of the Arctic”, “Sidewinder”, and closer “One With the Sun”. A song like “No Reprisal” sees Buz McGrath’s lead guitar passages peppered in between the chuggy riffs, among other cuts on the album. Laskiewicz’s involvement surely won’t please everyone, as many disgruntled fans’ criticisms of this album thus far have been related to the fact that a member of The Acacia Strain helped co-write as well as vocalist Trevor Phipp’s shift in vocal style.
According to a statement made by the band, Extinction[s]
is “full of venom toward the wrongs of the world, fighting back against the precarious position civilization is in, determined to effect some kind of change.” The band also mentioned that opener “Incinerate” is “meant to be a song of unity in a time of great polarization around the world.” Social statements like these have been used as a way to quell the divide that subjects such as politics and religion inevitably cause. Vocalist Trevor Phipps takes a more punk-esque approach to the lyricism on tracks like the opener and “Survivalist”, which tackles the subject of humanity’s inevitable demise by asking the question of “will I become just a fading memory？” early on in the song. The direct approach Phipps takes with his writing is at a direct contrast with the complex, encyclopedic writings of the likes of Silent Planet’s Garrett Russell, working to his advantage as he crafts a more easily digestible record lyrically. Rather than veil the message within a dozen layers of symbolism and confusing the listener in the process, the lyrics on Extinction[s]
get straight to the point.
Unearth’s consistency with their music is simply remarkable. It’s almost to the point where they can comfortably rival the likes of fellow Massachusetts metalcore act Converge on that front, despite never reaching the same peaks as them. While it does comfortably sit below Watchers of Rule
as well as The Oncoming Storm
and III: In the Eyes of Fire,
the ability of Extinction[s]
to go toe to toe with albums such as The March
or Darkness In the Light
is still noteworthy. Despite a noticeable downgrade in Trevor Phipps’ vocal delivery and more simplistic songwriting being prevalent, it still feels like Unearth. The familiarity of it all is a double-edged sword; while it can be the album’s greatest strength, it can also be its greatest weakness. In the case of Extinction[s]
, it’s both at the same time, but the album still prevails.