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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Systematic Evolution
Metal fans can more or less be classified into one of two groups. The first group we'll call "Moaners". They're the one's who whine and gripe every time their favorite band releases an album that doesn't sound EXACTLY like their last one. Irrespective of line-up changes, progression in song writing or playing ability, any album that does not follow the formula of its...
Published on July 5, 2011 by Khyron

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars better stuff out
start with stings of unconscious. this is good hard core metal music, but not as good as their earlier work.
Published 8 months ago by Joseph McGuinness (Ray Ray's R...


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Systematic Evolution, July 5, 2011
By 
Khyron (Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
Metal fans can more or less be classified into one of two groups. The first group we'll call "Moaners". They're the one's who whine and gripe every time their favorite band releases an album that doesn't sound EXACTLY like their last one. Irrespective of line-up changes, progression in song writing or playing ability, any album that does not follow the formula of its predecessor to the letter is unacceptable to a Moaner. The other group we'll call "Complainers". As I'm sure you have guessed, they're the Yin to the Moaner's Yang; griping incessantly when a band's new record sounds too much like the one that came before it. Moaners and Complainers never see eye to eye. Something akin to crossing the particle streams on the Ghostbuster's unlicensed nuclear accelerators would occur should a Moaner and a Complainer agree that a metal album is worthy of their mutually exclusive ears.

Folks, prepare for total protonic reversal.

Unearth have just released their most powerful record to date and, in so doing, have managed to break new ground, while at the same time sounding true to their roots. Darkness In The Light, their fifth studio album and fourth with producing wizard Adam Dutkiewicz, takes the best parts of The Oncoming Storm and The March and uses them as a springboard to propel their metal/hardcore amalgamation sound to new heights. It's very easy to focus on Ken Susi and Buz McGrath's inspired twin-axe assault on tracks like 'Shadows in the Light' and 'Ruination of the Lost' while overlooking John "Slo" Maggard's spot-on, triple-thick bass playing on the album's opener and 'Arise the War Cry'. Given the fact that the band has had a revolving door of drummers since the human octopus Mike Justian was dismissed following In The Eyes Of Fire, Slo's playing is all that much more impressive. On 'Eyes of Black', Trevor's vocals are reminiscent of Earth Crisis' Karl Buechner circa their 1996 masterpiece Gomorrah's Season Ends. It's a compliment. Karl set the standard for screaming vocals in the 90's and Unearth have cited EC as an influence on their sound.

Listening to Darkness in the Light from beginning to end, one can truly appreciate what a difference having Adam Dutkiewicz at the helm of the sound board makes. Without beating a dead horse, his presence was sorely missed on, 'III: In The Eyes Of Fire'. Enough said. I've called Adam the George Martin of metal before and I stand behind that. This is how a metal record should sound (do you hear me Rick Rubin?). Every instrument, including Trevor's, is played with surgical precision and then layered in such a way that no one sound cancels out another. The result is that this album can be listened to and appreciated by both the casual listener and the more discerning metal fan. To be a bit more succinct, Darkness In The Light sounds like an Unearth record should sound.

In the end, gifted musicians and slick production don't matter much if the songs aren't worth listening to. Darkness In The Light may be an engaging and compelling record, which it is- but it's also fun to listen to. With this record, Unearth have not reinvented the wheel, they didn't have to. What they have done with each successive album is improve, both in terms of playing ability and songwriting; a claim few other bands can make. Darkness In The Light will serve to solidify Unearth's status as the preeminent Metalcore band of the day and is a must have for your metal collection.

Be you a Moaner or a Complainer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy *$@%# What An Album!!!!, July 9, 2011
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This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
With each subsequent release since their first full-length "The Stings Of Conscience," Unearth have grown and improved as musicians and songwriters while maintaining the core elements that define their sound: Buzz McGrath's and Ken Susi's hybrid of metal and hardcore guitar heroics; Trevor Phipps' furious vocals and emotional lyrics; and the muscular bass lines and haunting piano interludes of John "Slo" Maggard. All of those elements are on full display on Darkness In The Light, refined and polished by the production skills of Adam Dutkiewicz (with a little help from Susi). This is the fourth album Adam D has produced for Unearth--a relationship more solid than a lot of marriages--and the comfort level between band and producer is obvious. Further enhancing the proceedings is the work of Killswitch Engage drummer Justin Foley, brought in to track drums for this album after Derek Kerswill's departure last year. (If there's one weakness in Unearth's formidable armor, it's their Spinal Tap-like inability to keep a drummer.) Foley might be one of the most underrated drummers in metal; judging from his playing here, he's getting seriously underused in his regular gig as KsE's drummer. (Memo to Adam D: let this guy show off a little on the next Killswitch album!)

On Darkness In The Light, Unearth takes some of the best from previous releases--the urgency of Stings of Conscience, the superb song craft and clean vocal snippets (sung by Susi) of The Oncoming Storm, the industrial-strength thrash of In The Eyes Of Fire, the groove of The March--and combines them into an incendiary brew. This album immediately grabs you by the throat; "Watch It Burn" combines a thundering rhythm section and a melodic riff with a crushing breakdown and Phipps' tear-the-political-establishment-a-new-one lyrics. It's Phipps' only direct political statement on this CD; for the most part, he writes from a more personal perspective, balancing his observations on the wretched state of the world ("Ruination Of The Lost," "Coming Of The Dark," "Eyes Of Black") with more uplifting, don't-give-up anthems ("Arise The War Cry," "Shadows In The Light," "Overcome"). On the searing "Last Wish," he takes the voice of a man on life support, begging loved ones to turn off the machines and set him free. If the opening riff of "Last Wish" doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, check your own pulse; in fact, chill-inducing riffs and solos abound on this album. Aspiring guitarists will be tying their fingers in knots for years to come trying to play McGrath's opening riff on "Arise The War Cry." Other standouts include the brief yet epic "Equinox," featuring Maggard's excellent piano work, and the closing track "Disillusion," perhaps the heaviest thing Unearth has ever done.

As the music industry's continued reliance on mass-produced mediocrity drives it ever further into stagnation and decay, it's encouraging to know there are still bands like Unearth out there, that just get better and better. Unearth is a force to be reckoned with, and Darkness In The Light is one of the best metal albums of 2011.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best UNEARTH album since The Oncoming Storm!, July 7, 2011
This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
I love unearth and I own everything they have done. This album is definitely their most technically advanced, all the while not sacrificing the classic unearth style and groove! If you like Unearth and you like to see a band progress while staying true to their roots then you will love this album!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good - no hits, but all tracks smoke, July 7, 2011
By 
Christopher (Seattle, Washington, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
Much, much better than The March. Almost as heavy as In The Eyes of Fire. And has as many quality tracks as The Oncoming Storm.

I do think this is the first major Unearth album without a 'hit'. Previously we got The Great Dividers, Giles, and My Will Be Done. Here I think the best track is Ruination of the Lost.

By my reckoning, 7 out of 11 tracks deserve at least a 4/5 rating. None warranted less than 3 stars. Awesome production -- perfect, in fact.

Highlights:
* The breakdown in Watch It Burn
* The overall groove of Ruination
* All the classic Unearth elements in Eyes of Black
* The smokin intro to Arise The War Cry
* Equinox's balanced, interesting composition
* Heroic guitar in The Fallen
* Disillusion simply crushes

Thanks for staying true, Unearth. We love where you're going/staying.

See you in the pit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERPIECE, July 20, 2011
This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
TOTAL SLAY ALBUM
.A MASTERPIECE.

with BREAKDOWNS
thats will MAKE you
WANT to rip somebodys faceoff .

GET IT
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crack for your ear drums., July 18, 2011
By 
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This review is from: Darkness In The Light (MP3 Music)
When it comes to reviewing this album, I can't compare it to any other bands on the metalcore scene. This is because I don't like metalcore. It never really worked for me, I never listened to any Hateswitch Engage, All That Remains as I Lay Dying, or Trivibreed Forbid or whatever those bands are called (I've sampled them & none have grabbed me). My extreme metal interests lay with the post-Pantera American groove metal acts (Lamb of God, DevilDriver) and European metal (Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir, Gojira). Which leads Unearth to be donned with the moniker "The only metalcore band to give a !@#$ about" by me.

So when I judge Darkness in the Light I look at it in comparison to other Unearth albums, rather than whether it revolutionizes the metalcore genre. Darkness not only the most varied, diverse and infectious of Unearth's releases, it's the best thing I've heard this year.

Normally I wouldn't review an album so soon after having buying it, I try to get 10+ listens in before making review, but since nabbing Darkness on it's July 5th release date, I. Can't. Stop. Listening. To. This. Album! It's crack for your ears. I've probably listened to it 20 times already, and I'm not stopping yet.

Like guitars? Ken and Buz offer up shredding, solos, and riffs that will cause headbanging and air guitaring. Like clean vocals? They have `em, and when Ken sings you'll want to sing along. Like harsh vocals? Well Trevor somehow sounds even more brutal than previous albums, as if he's been eating nothing but barb-wire and rusty nails. Breakdowns, a staple of metalcore that I've never understood. When other bands do them I think "What, you couldn't think of anything else to do?" When Unearth does a breakdown it feels like Godzilla just ripped the roof of my house and proceeds to curb stomp me.

To sum it up, this album sweeps you up effortlessly, when it wants to be hard, its brutal, when it wants to be melodic, it's epic. Unearth has evolved their established sound with thrash/melo-death elements seamlessly to create an album that is not only well-rounded, but reeks of confidence. Unearth doesn't sound like they are experimenting and expanding their music, it sounds like they knew exactly what they wanted to put on Darkness in the Light down to the last note.

This album is yet another example why Unearth is the only metalcore band I give a !@#$ about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly great, July 14, 2011
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This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
I was expecting an album that more or less blended in with their previous work and just sort of had some decent heavy moments and nothing too inspiring. However, I think that Unearth has written an album that I may actually like better than anything since The Oncoming Storm. I feel like they sound a little more like Killswitch in their songwriting here which may have something to do with Killswitch's guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz producing. I have no idea what degree of influence he has on the songwriting but it reminds me a little more of the most recent self titled Killswitch CD than other Unearth albums would.

I think that the guitar work involves a little less of the superfast virtuoso sounding stuff which I personally find takes me out of the music a little, so that's a good thing (although there are a couple moments of that). I think they did a great job of doing more catchy, albeit still technically impressive, riffs or solos. Again, that is just a lot more like how Killswitch structures their songs - with a lot of catchy, almost solo length guitar parts that aren't actually the solos but the hook. And then there are still some really good solo's. I guess the drummer on this album is Killswitch's drummer Justin Foley, so the comparisons continue! (even the album name sounds like a Killswitch song title). And then as far as Trevor's vocals, he is pretty much the same. He has pretty limited range, I just don't have any complaints, especially since he has moments that match the music really well.

All in all it's a great album that was unexpectedly good from my point of view as opposed to some of the relative disappointments that I have had with bands like Trivium, Mastodon, or even Lamb of God (since their earlier stuff is so tough to match). It's great to hear a 5th album from a band you already really held up highly and wonder if it may your favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good - no hits, but all tracks smoke, July 7, 2011
By 
Christopher (Seattle, Washington, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Darkness In The Light (MP3 Music)
Much, much better than The March. Almost as heavy as In The Eyes of Fire. And has as many quality tracks as The Oncoming Storm.

I do think this is the first major Unearth album without a 'hit'. Previously we got The Great Dividers, Giles, and My Will Be Done. Here I think the best track is Ruination of the Lost.

By my reckoning, 7 out of 11 tracks deserve at least a 4/5 rating. None warranted less than 3 stars. Awesome production -- perfect, in fact.

Highlights:
* The breakdown in Watch It Burn
* The overall groove of Ruination
* All the classic Unearth elements in Eyes of Black
* The smokin intro to Arise The War Cry
* Equinox's balanced, interesting composition
* Heroic guitar in The Fallen
* Disillusion simply crushes

Thanks for staying true, Unearth. We love where you're going/staying.

See you in the pit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album, August 25, 2011
This review is from: Darkness In The Light (MP3 Music)
I don't know how I managed to miss Unearth for this long but after I saw them at Mayhem Fest I decided to grab some of their albums starting with this one. Very good release. These guys can really play their instruments. Excellent album. Pick it up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just short of greatness..., July 17, 2011
By 
K. McGinn (Upstate NY, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Darkness in the Light (Audio CD)
I haven't listened to much Unearth in the last few years, and haven't really gotten hooked on one of their albums since The Oncoming Storm. But I usually check each album out as they are one of the elite of the metalcore genre. On the one hand, this feels like their strongest release since Storm, but there are a few weak points.

The biggest of these is the band's continued reliance on breakdowns. I do understand that they are a part of the band's sound/identity but sometimes they just take the momentum right out of the song (a la "Watch It Burn"). The repeated vocals over the chugging riffs just doesn't do anything for me, though perhaps I'm in the minority here. Some of the breakdowns are strong ("The Fallen"), but I'd like to see Unearth challenge themselves just a little more to strip themselves of the breakdown stigma. They certainly have the technical chops to do so. Another area that seems a bit weaker is the vocals. No, I'm not talking about the clean vocals (those seeem to be inserted surprisingly well), but Trevor's screams. They just don't seem as strong in spots as they do in some of the previous albums.

All in all, this is the first Unearth disc in a while that I've played more than a few times, so perhaps I'm being a little too knit-picky here. The band's strongest card is still absolutely gorgeous guitar melodies and harmonies that tap your toes and bang your head and they are at their best throughout this disc. Bottom line, if you like Unearth, you won't be disappointed.
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