Unearth – The Wretched, The Ruinous (Century Media)Monday, 1st May 2023
One of the seminal acts responsible for the rise of metalcore in the early 2000s, Unearth has still frequently flown relatively under the radar in comparison to their brethren in Killswitch Engage or Lamb of God. But nonetheless, their impact remains the same – and their distinctive style has managed to weather the tides for well over two decades at this point. While The Wretched, The Ruinous doesn’t see them making any major shifts to their proven sound, it provides fans with exactly the type of release they would be hoping for.
While there’s no surprises to really be had with Unearth’s latest, that’s not a bad thing. With some occasional swings into territory that wasn’t as revered by the metalcore fan base, The Wretched, The Ruinous stands as one of the band’s strongest releases since The Oncoming Storm. No frills accurately describes the album, and there’s a distinct focus on what has always worked best for Unearth. Expect some gorgeous, Gothenburg-inspired melodies, pummeling breakdowns, and no compromises in their heavier sound. The album starts off in what can only be described as what feels like an authentic live start, with the title track quickly jumping into galloping riffs and playful melodies in such a way that only Unearth can do. Some tracks lean more in heaviness or melody, with “Invictus” having some of the album’s most ear-worming melodies and Swedeath metal riff-fests, while “Dawn of the Militant” goes for the old-school thrash vibes in spades to a high degree of success. Later cut “Broken Arrow” hits a more hardcore-influenced vein though soaked with melody at the same time. Of course, the band ends the album with some tasty leads in “Theaters of War,” leaving the listener with a strong urge to hit replay and enjoy it all over again
Unearth have usually leaned in on the heavier side of the metalcore spectrum, and The Wretched, The Ruinous acknowledges its place in the band’s discography. An enjoyable mash-up of all the band’s strong points, it shows Unearth as continuing to forge their own path forward, managing to wield both an American approach to hardcore brutality and a European sense of melody. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.