For Fans Of
Despite having one of the longest running and most important careers in the entirety of metalcore, it seems as if Unearth has flown under everyone’s radar for the past few years. The late 2010s have quite simply exploded with bands like Silent Planet, August Burns Red, Parkway Drive, and Architects stealing much of the scene’s attention, and rightfully so. They’re all great artists! However, much of these older metalcore bands nowadays seem to be pumping out records that sound incredibly similar to everything else that they’ve done before; as if they’re stuck in a rut and are trying too hard to recapture their own heyday. Some come out bad, and some are just simply fine. However, this is not the case for Boston’s Unearth with their newest album, ‘Extinction(s)‘. Their seventh album features all of the group’s classic hallmarks yet also changes around some of that typical Unearth metalcore sound in some ways; embuing new life into their tight and melodious brand of metalcore. The kind that feels refreshing and energetic for the current climate. So much so that this new record is hopefully going to put them back on everyone’s radar once it touches down later this month.
A particular change on ‘Extinction(s)‘ that’s immediately noticeable upon listening to lead singles ‘Incinerate‘ and ‘Survivalist‘ is a better welcoming of groove whilst toning down the riff technicality to a slightly lesser but still acceptable level. The groove from bassist Chris O’Toole and drummer Nick Pierce dominates this album, imparting a dangerous level of headbanging throughout. Seriously, just try not to snap your neck in two whilst listening to ‘Extinction(s)‘. It’s bloody difficult! A particular example of this is ‘Hard Lined Downfall‘, arguably the heaviest song overall, which contains a wicked nu-metal vibe throughout. It almost sounds like a metalcore version of a song from Slipknot’s ‘Iowa‘ (2001). The tense drum work and barrage of lower-string riffage take you straight into the best breakdown of the lot, which even hits you with a surprise about halfway through that I’ll leave you to discover on your own. ‘Sidewinder‘ is also very nu-metal in its sound, following a trend that’s spread throughout the rest of the album. This track is also inspired by groovy, contemporary hardcore as well, featuring one of the record’s best mosh calls. In which vocalist Trevor Phipps screams, “sever the head of the slithering” right before the song’s crushing conclusion that leaves nothing but dust in its wake. It’s all monstrous stuff; both that song and the wider LP.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any technical songs here, however. Tracks like ‘Dust‘ and ‘No Reprisal‘ stray more towards the older, techier Unearth sound circa the early to mid-2000s, with their winding cacophony of sharp riffs and flashy solos intermittent with huge chugs and hectic breakdowns. There are so many notable guitar parts spread throughout the album too, but my personal favourite comes during the second half of ‘Incinerate‘ when guitarist Ken Susi hits you with a delicious sweep-picked lick. Other favourites of mine include some of the clean riffs that rear their head multiple times, such as during the intros to ‘Cultivation Of Infection‘ and ‘King Of The Arctic‘. ‘Cultivation Of Infection‘, in particular, is one of the greatest accomplishments on ‘Extinction(s)‘, what with its dark, brooding intro and Egyptian-esque atmosphere. This track also showcases the most chaotic and energetic breakdown of the album and possibly of Unearth’s entire catalogue too. A section that you should definitely not listen to while driving. Trust me, that’d be downright dangerous!
Although musically this album soars ahead of much of the band’s past discography (‘The Oncoming Storm‘ and ‘The March‘ are still golden, of course), the lyrics do seem a bit typical for a metalcore album these days. Just in terms of doomsday ideas, personal drive, bleak emotions, and political spectrums. This isn’t to say that the words embedded into these songs are bad by any means, as they are actually well thought out and well written. All I’m saying is that they just don’t necessarily add much more to the larger quality of what is already a stellar record. That being said, ‘Survivalist‘ dives deep into the difficulties of carrying on during hard times and even harder situations; lines like “a lifetime impending/I’m stalling, the darkness can wait/Eternity’s calling” cutting deep about the need to carry on when shit really hits the fan in our lives. Though, one of the more genius lyrical sections of the album comes from ‘Incinerate‘, which quotes E. Pluribus Enum (the motto of the United States; “out of many, one“) as it goes into the current dire state of the world.
With ‘Extinction(s)’, Unearth have created something truly special that shines bright amongst the rest of their already solid discography. It’s riffy, it’s crushing, it’s heavy, it’s melodic, and it sets a near-perfect benchmark for what younger (and even older) metalcore bands should aspire to achieve themselves. This album is a wicked journey of powerful grooves and earth-shattering breakdowns that moves at a breakneck pace towards a cello-driven ending that leaves you to reflect on the true genius you’ve just witnessed. ‘Extinction(s)’ is one of the best versions of Unearth yet, and I hope that the metalcore scene will treasure it as one of the better releases of 2018 for this genre. Both new fans and older listeners alike. So many bands owe so much to what artists like Unearth did back in the day, (Parkway Drive anyone?) and blimey, these guys have still got it now in 2018. This record is a hell of a listen; one that continually leaves me spent and coming right back for more. This is seriously how it’s done, kids.
Cultivation of Infection
The Hunt Begins
Hard Lined Downfall
King of the Arctic
One With The Sun
‘Extinction(S)’ is out November 23rd via Century Media.