I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on the latest Unearth album, The March, for a couple of weeks now, and I’m finally waving the white flag of surrender. I have a lot to say about this album, some of it good, some of it bad, and I’m just gonna let it all hang out now in a little bit of a brain fart. So bear with me here…

  • As an Unearth fan, I generally felt kind of disappointed with the band’s last album, III: In the Eyes of Fire. Some of the blame may have lay with producer Terry Date; although I’ve generally admired Date’s work in the past, I just didn’t think the album sounded monstrous enough. But mostly, I think the band was at fault; simply put, the songs just weren’t as good as the ones on their 2004 breakout album, The Oncoming Storm. I know the band made a conscious attempt to sound less metalcore-y on Fire than they did on Storm, and while we could debate the band’s success in that regard all day, I wonder if just setting such a goal for themselves (instead  of just going with the flow and writing what they know) ended up dampening the material. In any case, The March corrects whatever the problem was; there isn’t a single song here that doesn’t have something to recommend it.
  • I’ve never, ever heard Unearth make an album that truly captures the intensity (and fun) of their live performance. Unearth in a concert setting is truly a sight to behold – it inspires Slayer-like bouts of rabid violence amongst the band’s fans, and with good reason. The March doesn’t really get at the heart of what makes the band so fucking good live, either, but maybe nothing ever will, save for an actual live album (or the band’s recent concert DVD).
  • Even though I think The March is pretty terrific overall, I do wonder with bands like Unearth how much longer they can rely on their trademarks (hardcore barks, chugga-chug riffs, blistering British New Wave leads, lead pipe to the skull breakdowns, etc.) without it all just sounding tired and clichéd. To the band’s credit, I don’t think they’ve quite reached that point yet, and maybe they’ll turn out to be metalcore’s answer to Slayer and never have to change their sound. But just as the Crowbarish “Desperate Times” was a welcome respite from the same old same old on Killswitch Engage’s As Daylight Dies, so the slower-than-usual “Letting Go” on The March will probably perk up a lot of ears, because it doesn’t just blend in with the rest of the album. This is a band that doesn’t indulge in Metallica-like melodic intros or clean vocals or semi-ballads or whatever other b.s. the rest of the metalcore pack is so fond of, but I do wonder if they have something a little more varied in them somewhere.
  • It’s too hard for me to bitch about any aspect of The March too much, because the album is just too damn fun.

metal hornsmetal horns

(3 ½ out of 5 horns)


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