Unearth - The Oncoming Storm
Metal Blade
11 songs ()
Release year: 2004
Unearth, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Jason
Surprise of the month

Before this release, Unearth was better remembered to me as the hardcore band whose show I went to see with a date 3 years ago. How did the date go you ask? Well… let’s just say that a venue with loud aggressive music, topped off with dancers who throw punches and kicks, isn’t exactly the greatest place to lay down the moves on the ladies. Nonetheless, aside from sparking old memories, Unearth’s newest release The Oncoming Storm definitely took me by surprise on first listen.

A band that I could have labeled as the epitome of modern day hardcore has already drastically changed their sound on their second release to what can now be best described as wholly Metalcore. Although Unearth had a tinge metal on The Stings of Conscience, it definitely cannot be compared technical superiority of this album. Mike Justian’s drumming has improved sevenfold, and Buz McGrath and Ken Susi’s guitar work have deviated from the overly chugg-chugging sound that dominated TSoC. I can even go as far as to say as that it’s quite impressive that a band of this genre has drastically changed and improved to such a large extent. Perhaps the only thing that remains relatively the same is Trevor Phipps vocals, which still have the same distinct bellow as on TSoC .

The album starts off strong with The Great Dividers which is a fiery, hard-hitting and diverse track that has everything from fast galloping riffs, slow melodious rhythms to destructive breakdowns. Though my opinion on breakdowns is that they are fairly lame and overused, I have to say that Unearth manages to incorporate them tastefully in this tune without committing overkill. The same can’t be said for a few other tracks though, (especially This Lying World) that have Trevor Phipps yelling “Break Down!!” or “GO!!” just before the predictable beat kicks in. Honestly c’mon, there’s nothing lamer than calling something right before it kicks in (even though I do it sometimes). Has Malmsteen ever paused a song for a split second and yelled “GUITAR SOLO!!” before shredding? No he hasn’t, and god forbid that he ever will.

Fast forward to track #4 and one will hear Black Hearts Now Reign, whose video is featured on the CD and has been available on the net for some time now. With scorchingly fast guitar riffs, numerous beat change ups and a catchy solo, this tune is stylistically similar to The Great Dividers. Being perhaps the catchiest song on the album I can easily understand why this tune was chosen for the video. The Video features a bunch of live footage that is dubbed over with the studio recorded version of the song. Definitely won’t win video of the year, but I’d watch this ten times before I subjected myself to another Rhapsody video.

The true Metal highlight and shocker on this album definitely has to be the fifth track Zombie Autopilot, which could have easily been titled “An Ode to In Flames”. The opening melody sounds like something that could have come straight out of In Flames’s pre Reroute to Remain era and is truly killer right up until half way through. After two and a half minutes of killer riffs, melodies and solos the song begins hone down and the tune becomes somewhat Emo-esque with some dragging notes and clear vocals. Despite the end of the tune this remains one of my favorite songs on the album.

Despite a few cheesy breakdowns in tracks like This Lying World and the Emoish moments at the end of Zombie Autopilot and Aries, this is one helluva solid Metalcore release. TONS of intensity, TONS of great solid musicianship, and great for TONS of headbanging. Even the biggest critics of Metalcore (like me) should give this album a try, as they’ll surely find some enjoyable elements. If you’re like me and enjoy giving yourself ear damage, crank up the decibels and give this album a spin.

Killing Songs :
The Great Dividers, Failure, Black Hearts Now Reign, Zombie Autopilot, Endless
Jason quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Unearth that we have reviewed:
Unearth - The March reviewed by Khelek and quoted 60 / 100
Unearth - III: In The Eyes Of Fire reviewed by Ken and quoted 65 / 100
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