2004 Metal Blade Records
01. The Great Dividers MP3
03. This Lying World
04. Black Hearts Now Reign
05. Zombie Autopilot
06. Bloodlust of the Human Condition
07. Lie to Purify
10. Predetermined Sky
11. False Idols
Experts will tell you that long term and constant exposure to anything that excites the senses will leave you callused to it. Whether it be violence, sex, or (in my case) breakdowns. If I hear a breakdown, I’m hardly moved anymore. I will bob my head and smile, but mostly it will just slide right off me. Because big, heavy half times have become so prominent and trite in the world of aggressive music, I am barely inclined to dance anymore. When I put Unearth’s latest effort into my computer, I was reminded of the lost excitement that breakdowns used to bring me. This album is by no means saturated with breakdowns, but when the Unearth camp decide to break it down - it is nothing short of absolutely arresting.
The Oncoming Storm starts off very strong with the single “The Great Dividers” and doesn’t slow down until it reaches the always essential pseudo - instrumental track “Aries.” Said slow track is probably the weakest part of the album. During my first few listens of the album I would let it play through, but now it’s nothing more than three seconds of noise before I skip to the next track. Granted, the piano tune and the other instrumentation is catchy and thoughtful, but when I put in Unearth, I want brutality and nothing but brutality. And putting this track right after “Endless” is a mistake. Speaking of which, the new version of “Endless” definitely pales in comparison to its original release on the band’s 2002 EP under the same song’s moniker. Had I heard “Endless” for the first time on The Oncoming Storm, I would have been completely blown away. Here’s a helpful analogy, before I saw the original Psycho, I thought Vince Vaughn was the shit. Having these two tracks together creates a rut in the album that the final two songs, “Predetermined Sky,” and “False Idols” have no trouble in gaining immediate recuperation from. As I mentioned before, the first eight tracks are a complete trainwreck and I am hard-pressed to choose which song I like the best.
Production wise, the album is tight. Adam D. of Killswitch Engage fame lent his skills to the production and did a thorough job, but what else is new The clean vocals on this album were executed very well. They are subtle and configured so that the listener is not thrown off by sporadic outbursts of melody, and yet they’re strong enough that the listener is left feeling somewhat teased - as if you don’t want them to end because they’re really that good. The only problem with the production is a lot of emphasis is put on the pounding of the drums and not enough on the crashing of the drums. Listen to the final breakdown of “Endless” to see what I mean. It’s just not as abrasive when the crash is barely palpable. In true Unearth fashion, neither the drums nor the guitar parts leave any question as to when a breakdown or a two-step part is coming. So all of you mirror moshers will have zero trouble knowing when to rattle your moms’ china cabinets.
Bottom Line: Expect this to be one of those albums that every kid will be talking about for the rest of the summer. And truthfully; it deserves it. Frankly, this album is just heavy. Really, really heavy. Unearth will no doubt gain more fans as they are on this year’s Ozzfest and will probably leave quite a few nu metal kids completely stunned as Hatebreed did a few years ago.