Sound — 8
Massachusetts metalists Unearth has received a very warm welcome for their "The Oncoming Storm" album even before the release date, getting previews as "the best heavy metal record release since Kill 'Em All." It's the band's debut for Metal Blade and the record company obviously worked hard on the promotion. As for the record itself, surprisingly it's not awfully far from the odes in it's honour. Being the band's second full-length release and produced by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, "The Oncoming Storm" just couldn't be bad. Despite their origin roots, Unearth are tending to lean more to Swedish metal sound, having a lot of brutal flavor inwardly. The album is a treasure for those looking for guitar inspiration -- workaholic musicians demonstrate their skilful playing on every track of "The Oncoming Storm." Guitar playing, being the best and the leading theme on the album, is full of colorful and versatile riffs; double guitar attacks amaze by the diversity and richness. Spontaneous variations and tempo changes appear in every song -- the guys push it to the limit of "incredibly fast" and then suddenly slow down to let you have a quick breath. Just to start the fury all over again. The addition of Mike Justain (ex-Red Chord) who sold his soul for playing drums like a machine, brought more rage to the band's sound. There are truly some mighty works with double bass pedal. Even though the work of bassist John "Slo" Maggard is hardly evident, the rhythm section creates a solid base for the controlled chaos of the record. The guys squeezes as much and possible out of instruments. I can't even imagine how many guitar strings and drum sticks were broken recording the album. The stellar guitar work by seven-stringers Ken Susi and Buz McGrath is impressive not only by the number of notes played per second, but also by some great solo lines that are often very close to classics. If not a distortion background, it could well be a part of a symphony. Among all tracks (the majority of which have repetitive structure) "Zombie Autopilot" is a proud owner of the best guitar solos.
Lyrics — 6
Very unusual to hear metalcore record with vocal line not being laid above all instruments. The vocals didn't get the main role in this play, they are eclipsed by sophisticated melodic guitar leads. This is done very wisely as Trevor Phipps' screamo is very mediocre and sounds generic in all songs. You take it as just another instrument, not something that should pronounce words and fill the songs with meaning. Apart from other songs "Lie To Purify" has quite enjoyable screaming. Similar to their colleagues by genre, lyrics reveal the awful truth about despair and decidability of our lives, encouraging us to strike against everything that's going on.
Overall Impression — 6
Unearth are very professional at what they do, the quality of music is polished to the perfection. The band pushes the music to the extreme level, kindly leaving just one step, so it would be listenable. The guys are definitely trying to compose another "Fly Of A Bumble-Bee" masterpiece -- the guitar work is ridiculously fast and drums often sound like electronic effects. As most of the debut records with the pretension to a break-through album, this one has a bonus feature -- live video for "Black Hearts Now Reign." When you see the guitarist with a long face torturing the guitar, you get the point. Professional playing doesn't always make a good song, neither it can hide the lack of originality in the sound. Even though there's a lot to be said about the playing technique, there's not much of soul and differentially in the music. Songs are too complicated to remember and differ one from another. That's a huge disadvantage and spoils the entire impression of the record. To enjoy the music you gotta have some background. If you're a metalcore lover, most definitely you'll love the band. If you're not... I doubt something, except of the speedy playing will impress you.