Unearth has been around since 1998 and three core members still remain, Trevor Phipps, Buz McGrath, and Ken Susi. After a tragic accident of their original bassist they were joined by John “Slo” Maggard, and the most recent addition, albeit temporary, of Justin Foley handling the studio work on drums, the boys from Boston are at their best on this latest release. “Darkness In The Light” marks the fifth studio release from the metal gods from the east. Having to equal or surpass “The March” would be a daunting task at best. Where will this latest collection fall in the works of the band?
“The March” was such a powerhouse release, but if that was considered a powerhouse then “Darkness In The Light” can only be labelled as a tour de force. The opening track, ‘Watch It Burn’ starts off with the wizard notes of McGrath with the rest of the Bostonians coming in on all cylinders. The timing and perfection of Susi and Slo is spot on, letting Phipps do what he does best, execute perfect screams. The ability of these guys to hold a beat is reminiscent of Gojira and this skill executed in this fashion gives McGrath and Phipps a blank page on which to work their magic. This magical ability continues through on ‘Ruination of the Lost’, where the drums really shine. This is a wonderful percussion driven tune, with some added flair of McGrath near the end. On this track it is really the drums that drive this and with bass and rhythm guitars in perfect step with the percussion yielding a pure head banging result.
The two most interesting tracks on the release are ‘Equinox’ and ‘Arise the War Cry’. Both have fantastic additions of keyboards in their arsenal and those boards are used to perfection to achieve tone and emotion in both tracks. ‘Equinox’ starts as a piano piece with McGrath coming in weaving his spell of notes. The full thump drops in the middle, giving way again to the softer melodies at the end. The message is clear here, there is no way out and the music creates that haunting image nicely. Moving into the thunderous ‘Coming of the Dark’, this is in stark contrast to ‘Equinox’ musically, but nonetheless, conveys feelings of despair in the dark with each beat and pluck of the guitar string. Compare this to the upbeat vibe of ‘Overcome’, this track is certainly reminiscent of the upbeat power of ‘The Chosen’ on their last release. ‘Overcome’ is a sure fire, fist pumping, horns flying power song if there ever was one. Just these few tracks in comparison provide an overall image of darkness in whatever light may still exist.
This is without a doubt the best work of Unearth to date. “Darkness In The Light” is eleven power packed tracks. Perfect timing of music and vocals remind everyone that Unearth is a true force to be reckoned with. The team of McGrath and Susi are flawless on this release. McGrath and Susi provide a duelling guitar team second to none. Slo and Foley are in lock step but not so much that they don’t allow each other to shine on their respective parts. Phipps is in perfect pitch and delivers with such power and feeling, adding emotion packed layers to their music. When these individuals become a collective it is nothing short of metal magic. “Darkness In The Light” is destined to propel Unearth even further up the head banging, horn throwing metal ladder.