Sound — 9
"Darkness In The Light" is the fifth studio release of Massachusetts metal band Unearth, and quite frankly it could be the best one since 2004's breakthrough album "The Oncoming Storm". With this album we find Unearth getting double the help from Killswitch Engage, with Adam Dutkiewicz once again taking the audio recording reins and also Justin Foley (Killswitch Engage, Blood Has Been Shed) on the drums. Within the music, it's clear that this album takes the best elements from every album released so far and pushes them to their limits. Whether it be the urgency felt from "Stings Of Conscience" or the thrashiness of "III: In The Eyes Of Fire", it's all pushed to its finest point on this album. One of the finest qualities about this album is the songwriting and the overall flow. It's clear that this isn't a band that throws riffs and breakdowns together for the sake of making something heavy. There was definitely a lot of thought put into these songs, especially in the melodic bridge of "Watch It Burn" which features Ken Susi's singing. That part has such a strong contrast within the rest of the song, yet adds to the same feeling of urgency as the other riffs and particularly the breakdown chorus. I will say that there are two songs that really stand out to me as timeless Unearth songs and two that clearly steer Unearth in an interesting direction. The two timeless songs by Unearth are "Shadows In The Light" and "Equinox". "Shadows In The Light" is, for me, Unearth's writing at it's finest. From the fading in guitar harmony to the nuance-filled pre-chorus, this song has such a driven and passionate tone to it. The solos in this song sound absolutely amazing. "Equinox" is a chillingly heavy song which features the return to piano by bassist John "Slo" Maggard. The song features almost very shoegaze-like guitar textures which add to the depressing, negative vibe in an honestly beautiful way. The two different yet interesting songs in this album are "Ruination Of The Lost" and "Coming Of The Dark", which both feature different tunings than the other songs. "Ruination Of The Lost" features a very European-metal intro and chorus that kind of reminds me of mid-career In Flames. "Coming Of The Dark" has more of a groove to it, from the d-beat verse riff to the breakdown bridge. The riff in the breakdown bridge has a very Pantera-esque taste to it, which of course is all the more wonderful. All and all, the songwriting on this record really drives it to the top. It really goes to show that if you expand upon your roots rather than abandon them, you can still create great music while keeping the core integrity.
Lyrics — 9
On this record, we find Trevor writing a bit more from a personal perspective rather than strictly political like on previous releases. While there are still songs like "Watch It Burn" that feature politically-driven lyrics, there are a lot more songs that are based on personal strife and overcoming problems. Once again I find myself bringing up the songs "Shadows In The Light" and "Equinox", both very fine examples of this. In "Shadows In The Light", Trevor's deliverance is not only stellar, but this is probably the first time I've listened to an Unearth record where when I hear Trevor's words, I feel them. The first time I heard the pre-chorus "I've fallen all too far. Obsessed with the shadows in the light. This constant war will bring me home. This constant war will force me onward", it hit me like a sack of bricks. The vocal rhythms he implemented with those lyrics were spot on. "Equinox" is the shortest song, yet the hardest hitting with the lines "And I keep walking on to see it all fade to dust. And I keep walking on to find there's no way out". The passion and sadness exhibited in this performance legitimately moved me, as this also had perfect vocal deliverance. While songs like "Overcome" seem a bit too Massachusetts-metal cliche' in its lyrics, "We stand tall, we won't break. Side by side, we'll overcome", "Disillusion" is by far the angriest song Trevor has ever written. With the chorus alone going on about a certain sentiment of betrayal to "YOU F--KING FAILED ME", this is probably the angriest song since "My Heart Bleeds No Longer" from 2001's "Stings Of Conscience". As mentioned earlier, Ken Susi makes a return to singing vocals on select songs. While his singing was almost very mid-range and almost expressionless in past releases, there is much expression and passion in his singing on this record to the point where it is a legitimate highlight. "Watch It Burn" right from the get go is a great example of this as he sings the bridge "Can you imagine why the writing is on the walls? You're paralyzed; our hope has died". On songs such as "Last Wish" and "Overcome", his voice serves as more of an interesting texture along with Trevor's vocals. The fact that he hits the higher notes in the melodies this time around pushes each of those songs to a higher sense of dynamism. And the melodies this time around are all well thought out and executed.
Overall Impression — 9
People are going to say this is the finest effort since "The Oncoming Storm". Other people are going to say the contrary. I will say that this is probably either on level with it, or perhaps better. The dynamics in the songwriting really push it to that point. They've taken elements from their previous efforts and perfected them on this release, which for me makes it one of their best releases to date. And I'm a fan of all of their albums, but this makes 2008's "The March" look like "The Skip". Overall, this is a fantastic album, and if someone were to steal this, I'd probably get a wrecking crew on him/her.