Review: Unearth – Darkness In The Light

A slice of metal (though flawed) through the hollowed and empty husk of the metalcore genre. 

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson



Darkness In The Light

Metal Blade Records


I have never been a big supporter of metalcore. For me, it’s the lowest common denominator of heavy music. It lacks the raw honesty of punk, the technical creativity of thrash or the desire to experiment like so many other heavy bands out there. It is, for all intents and purposes, the pop of the heavy music industry and most of the bands the Katy Perry and Lady GaGa. 


Easy to understand structures, typical vocals, sing song choruses that try to prove how “different” the music is but usually sound forced. The scene is entirely too clique centered, which you can tell by how they circle the wagons if anybody says anything critical. Lets remember people, metalcore may have given us Killswitch Engage but it also gave us Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu. 


I preface this review with that so you can understand how rare it is to analyze a band like Unearth. This Massachusetts based group has consistently put out solid records in a genre that usually vomits out mediocrity in volumes. Unearth’s newest studio offering, Darkness In The Light, is another riff packed epic that proves the band is head and shoulders above most of their peers. This album isn’t the greatness of The Oncoming Storm but it is much better than their last release, the clumsy and boring The March


Unearth have always had a flair for the dramatic and on Darkness In The Light they allow that to shine. The opening jam “Watch It Burn” oozes dramatic tension from the first harmonized solo, through the breakdown and back out the head banging thrash-inspired main riff. It announces that Unearth is here and everybody else can pretty much fuck off. “Ruination Of The Lost” boasts a dramatic gallop guitar riff before the track goes off in several different directions that are held down by some really impressive drumming.


Killswitch Engage axe man and producer extraordinaire Adam D absolutely nails the production on Darkness In The Light. Things are crisp but not tinny and there’s actual bottom end bass parts driving the spastic drums. Every band in the metalcore scene or any band aiming to get into it should repeatedly listen to the tune “Shadows In The Light”. This is what metalcore sounds like when it’s done right, it stands as almost a blue print to the genre. The melodic opening riff that leads straight into a head-banging full throttle guitar and the necessary halftime section for effect, even the melody-heavy chorus to ratchet the drama up a notch.  


“Eyes Of Black” finds the band jumping head first into brutality. This is the explosion track, the one where the intro gets the kids amped so when the band comes all-in the dance floor is alive with black t-shirts and chain wallets trying to kill each other. I can hear touches of Pantera in “Eyes Of Black” as well as nods to late eighties and early nineties hardcore.  This particular song goes right for the throat of Unearth’s biggest critics. Many have lamented that the band hasn’t grown much from album to album. “Eyes Of Black” is a nice departure from what the band are known for, so it makes a powerful impression.


Though the album is good, Unearth can’t completely escape the trappings of the genre and their own laziness. Too often chugging is used as filler, like the audio version of a hot dog. The vocals still bore me, but I can’t hold that against them too hard because it’s more a personal taste than anything the band is doing wrong. In all honesty I enjoy the Unearth vocals more than most in the genre but, after awhile, they still sound like an asthmatic dog trying to warn people of a fire through a field of grunting gorillas. Those critiques aside, Darkness In The Light is a first rate slice of metal that helps return the meat to the hollowed and empty husk of the metalcore genre.