Not that there’s ever really been a moment of musical drought for Boston’s Unearth, but tracing back to 2014s Watchers of Rule the motive is a recommitment to brutality. On Extinction(s) (Century Media), the New Englanders are playing with more passion and vitriol than most of their younger contemporaries currently filling the Metal and Hardcore ranks.
And maybe this renaissance is indeed a direct response to young killers like Code Orange and Jesus Piece setting the modern standard. Unearth, after all, was always one of the most energetic and entertaining acts of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal so I don’t imagine them willing to go quietly into the night in today’s extreme climate. Maybe it’s not about getting the level of success they deserved. Packing an album with neck snappers like ‘Dust’ and ‘Survivalist’ could be Unearth sticking the middle finger firmly in the chest of a music industry that saw many of their contemporaries, unfortunately, fade away (God Forbid, Shadows Fall) or enter musical stagnation (All That Remains).
The hunger and sense of urgency is palpable from the jump as Extinction(s) leaps off the line without any extended introductions or frills in the rattling ‘Incinerate.’ It is exactly the type of song you’ve come to expect if you’ve seen Unearth terrorize an Ozzfest or Warped Tour stage. Bruising hardcore and what Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta has affectionately dubbed “alarm clock riffs” get the blood running and set the table for the patented guitar shred. I’ve said it before and I’ll remind you once again that Ken Susi and Buz McGrath might be the most under-appreciated guitar tandems in the game. They delivered the goods on ‘Zombie Autopilot’ back in the day and continue to do so on jams like ‘The Hunt Begins.’ While speaking of praise, drummer Nick Pierce gets a nod for his wicked double kicks throughout the album and the blast beat spice he douses on ‘No Reprisal.’
There seems to be something in the Boston beer that keeps Unearth hungry and in the fight. And while it may not come to pass, but with chops like these they should be standing shoulder to shoulder with Killswitch Engage and Lamb Of God.