01. My Will Be Done 02. Hail the Shrine 03. Crow Killer 04. Grave of Opportunity 05. We Are Not Anonymous 06. The March 07. Cutman 08. The Chosen 09. Letting Go 10. Truth or Consequence2008 Metal Blade Records
Unearth has certainly been extremely influential in the metalcore genre over the last few years. They may not have been the first act to merge melodic metal with a hardcore songwriting mentality, but one would have to be either greatly uninformed or downright crazy to argue that this Massachusetts quintet wasn't partially responsible for much of the recent metalcore boom. But we've all heard Unearth and we all know the back story, so let's cut to the chase. Is this band still relevant in a scene overcrowded with an overabundance of acts that they had a hand in bringing into this world The short answer is, yes. And perhaps now even more than ever. The trends of new music point toward the preliminary stages of the metalcore bubble bursting, as the spotlight seems to be shifting more toward the abysmal offerings of what has been branded as "deathcore" (the well of Misery Signals and Unearth clones seems to be drying up in favor of an influx of Suicide Silence, Whitechapel, and Winds of Plague type drivel). This leaves Unearth to carry the torch of a genre they helped deliver to the masses, proving their love of the style while others abandon it in favor of a newer bandwagon. I can respect that. Of course the fact that The March is packed with a ton of solid material helps quite a bit too. Fans with multiple Unearth records in their collection won't find anything overly surprising -- the band's signature songwriting style is still very much reliant upon incredibly melodic lead guitar work, thick metallic riffing, and the expected placement of massive breakdowns -- but they will appreciate many of the constantly evolving subtleties that the band continues to incorporate. The nimble leads of "Crow Killer" point toward a strong power metal influence. The blazing solo work in "The Chosen" draws heavily upon the elements of classic NWOBHM as it delivers tapping with great attention to melody. And while the slow, almost ballad-like chord progressions of "Letting Go" might feel a little foreign, the slab of Crowbar-esque down-tuned riffage in the closing breakdown is a perfect view of Unearth at their heaviest. The drawbacks of The March are identical to those of the rest of Unearth's discography. Songwriting predictability: check. Potential staleness of breakdowns: check. Occasionally tacky vocal lines (although nothing on The March is nearly as cheesy as The Oncoming Storm's infamous "breakdown" yell): check. But these things come with the territory and are far from a surprise. The March is simply metalcore for those that can still appreciate the genre. A few listeners that haven't touched metalcore for the last few years might actually be surprised at the overall quality of this release. Thanks to the continued development of guitar virtuosos Buz McGrath and Ken Susi and the decision to stick to what they know best, Unearth has managed to fight off the curse of monotony that often plagues metal bands well into their career. And as the trends begin to point away from metalcore, Unearth will be left standing as the leader, a position they certainly deserve. Bottom Line: Unearth continues to kick the asses of the vast majority of all of the second-rate metalcore acts they helped inspire. The March is the definition of a solid metalcore release, and has no shortage of all of the fundamentals: incredibly catchy guitar leads, great supporting riffs, and the obligatory breakdowns. A bit of songwriting predictability is still Unearth's Achilles' heel, but a band this deep into their career isn't necessarily looking to shake things up in that arena. And nor should they. Unearth will still be around after the metalcore swell has subsided. And that deserves a little bit of recognition.