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Unearth - The March

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 @ 2:51 PM


(Metal Blade)

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Massachusetts metallurgists Unearth tried doing something a little different with their last album, In The Eyes of Fire, and ended up sounding a bit more like Pantera than they probably had hoped to. After having worked close to home with Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz on their first two albums, they went out to Seattle to have producer Terry Date - who helped turn Pantera into the monster they became, as well as adding thunder to White Zombie and Soundgarden - work his magic with them.

But his signature dry wall of crunch, combined with the band's more dense, lock-step full-on metal yielded something uncomfortably close to Vulgar Display of Power. And where they previously boasted swagger and fluidity to go along with their ferocity, Unearth came off sounding rigid and tense on Fire, despite the enormous power and sheer volume they generated.

So they return to more familiar ground for their fourth album, recording on their home turf with Dutkiewicz again at the helm and a set of songs more fitting the thrash/metal-core sound Unearth had previously established. Right off the bat with “My Will Be Done,” the band sound looser, as Buz McGrath and Ken Susi open up with widdly-widdly synchronized leads and then let fly with a hail of crushing riffs. Their fanciful interplay is much more prevalent on The March, with leadwork weaving in and out of nearly every track instead of merely building to the traditional solo section, giving the album an almost old In Flames-y, European power metal vibe.

But there is plenty of aggression to go around here as well. Underneath this playful guitar work are some truly bulldozing rhythms, even more hulking hooks and intermittent breakdowns that, though somewhat rote - especially on the lurching title track - can punch a hole right through your chest. And on top of it all is frontman Trevor Phipps’ mean-ass drill sergeant bark that leaves little room for friendly melody or cheerful sentiment.

While Unearth don’t exactly break much in the way of new ground on here, they’ve at least got themselves back on track. The March certainly sounds more natural and boasts tons more spunk than Fire without losing a bit of heaviness or tenacity. Different is not always better, and Unearth seem to have learned that lesson. There’s no shame in that, and The March makes for an effective return to form.

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