III: In The Eyes OF Fire
posted on 4/2007 By:
After their breakthrough record, The Oncoming Storm, went on to sell in excess of 150,000 copies, Unearth was catapulted into the big time, and with that, big time expectations for a follow up. But as anyone can tell from the consistency of their first two outings, it was virtually assured this record was going to be another example of why this band has quickly become the new king of the metalcore hill. The winning formula, like their previous albums, is your basic metalcore staples of Maiden influenced solos, neo-thrash gallops and burly breakdowns, but like any sports fan knows, even with the same equipment and same goal in mind, some people just do it better than all the rest.
But if the formula is the same as so many other bands how can they be so much better? Well for one, instead of paying lip service with an obligatory Iron Maiden influence listing on their MySpace, they actually walk the walk, incorporating a real power metal sensibility to the riffs and solos, especially on the intros, that’s very well integrated into the more straight up metalcore material. This area of their songwriting, while always present, really shines here with more than a few insanely catchy intros that become lodged in your brain from the get go. Secondly, and I hate to sound like Goldilocks here, Unearth’s aggression level straddles the line between being hard hitting enough to satisfy fans of straight metal but lacks the overt extremeness of more death metal influenced core acts like All Shall Perish. That’s not to say the music is safe per se, but it’s not out to melt your face or crush your scrotum, just provide quality blast free metal with discernable lyrics and an overtly melodic edge. Thirdly, the breakdowns, which are thankfully pared back a little here, are less chugga chugga two-step style and more like a single thrash riff broken up into bite size chunks. And there’s no screaming “breakdown” before any breakdowns. So there’s less of that thugcore vibe that somewhat infected some of the songs on The Oncoming Storm. Lastly, and this is a big one, there are no clean vocals. YES!
Even more so than The Oncoming Storm, III: Eyes Of Fire is a flat out riff fest, alternating between speedy thrash inflected passages and more measured melodic material. As noted above, there are less breakdowns to deal with here so it really gives them a chance to showcase their talent at writing full featured songs instead of a series of bridges linking breakdowns together, something so many of their peers are guilty of. There’s still quite a few, but they never become the dominant theme of any one song. And the production, provided by old school Terry Date, is stellar this go around. The somewhat tinny percussion on The Oncoming Storm has been remedied with a nice, deep organic sound and the guitars sound incredibly rich yet crystal clear. This no doubt helped these tracks stand out a little more than their last two records.
The one area I felt a little let down in was the lack of any true heart-stopping tracks like the manic energy found on “Black Hearts Now Reign” on The Oncoming Storm. Overall, the songs are bit more consistent and harder hitting in total but nothing quite grabs you like some of their previous work. Still, I’ll take a clutch of very good songs over a couple excellent ones any day. My only other complaint and it’s a minor one, is that even though this album has some variations from past material it does feel like I’ve eaten this same dish before. So far there’s only been two others like it so I’m not quite ready to stop wolfing it down yet but it would be a stretch to think they could keep up this level of great songwriting indefinitely. Of course that’s something to worry about when it happens. As it stands now, Unearth has solidified their place in the metal world and proved that what followed The Oncoming Storm was, if not perfect, indeed a Nor’easter to be talked about for years to come.
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