Originally written by Tim Pigeon
Unearth: Metalcore saviors? Johnny-come-latelys? Overrated? However you feel about them, one thing is certain – the buzz about them is unavoidable. Especially after coming damn close to cracking the Billboard top 100 in their new album’s debut week. Personally, I had sky-high expectations for The Oncoming Storm, considering that I feel that their prior output, The Stings of Conscience, is the 2nd-best metalcore album out there, trailing only God Forbid’s Determination. So was I expecting too much out of these hometown heroes? Read on…
Anyone who’s heard both Stings and last year’s Endless EP must have noticed that Unearth have taken a slightly more melodic approach. Well thankfully they have stayed the course, and resisted the urge to get too sugary-sweet. Fear not, they’ve still got twice the sack of bands like Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold. On the other hand, certain pieces are nothing more than a tribute to Clayman-era In Flames. In essence, The Oncoming Storm is a melodic death metal album with Unearth’s trademarked ferocious breakdowns and Trevor Phipps’ distinctive shout.
The production is slicker than on Stings, although they’ve maintained that precious tone on the breakdowns that sounds like ten guitars smashing together in perfect disharmony. The best example of this is on the Clayman bonus track (a joke), “Zombie Autopilot”. The harmonized leads float gently to your ears, while the crunch is delivered forcefully. But the album’s zenith comes in the form of the first single, “Black Hearts Now Reign”. Unearth perform this song with a raw intensity that I haven’t heard from this scene in awhile. It comes off as natural, rather than the forced aggression of much of the metalcore horde. Too bad they couldn’t maintain this fire throughout the rest of the album, because “Black Hearts” is a song-of-the-year contender, in these ears. Regardless, The Oncoming Storm, has more than enough quality tracks to keep the listener grimacing while practicing the bedroom kung-fu.
Naturally, Unearth could not quite deliver on my unattainable expectations, but they’ve still delivered one of the year’s top metalcore albums. They deserve the respect and praise being shown to them by this now-burgeoning scene. Hopefully, they can experience success on the scale that Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and Hatebreed enjoy, before the bloated metalcore bubble bursts.