Album review: Unearth – The Wretched; The Ruinous

The mighty Unearth are back to their best, and this time they’re bringing a semicolon…

Album review: Unearth – The Wretched; The Ruinous
Dan Slessor

Original Massachusetts metalcore warriors Unearth have always worked their collective arse off, and for their efforts they have reached their 25th anniversary and album number eight. Their first without founding guitarist Ken Susi, they have nevertheless not missed a step, for The Wretched; The Ruinous is the best thing they have done in years.

In moving forward they have taken a look back at their catalogue, most notably to 2004’s The Oncoming Storm, the influence of which looms large here, in a thrilling way. From the opening title-track, with their trademark machine gun chug and its triumphant chorus to epic closer Theaters Of War they are on fire, particularly on the equally burly and sinister Mother Betrayal. Serving up a virtual smorgasbord of hefty riffs, interwoven with subtle yet rousing melodies and driven by relentless drumming it remains riveting throughout.

Vocalist Trevor Phipps also ups the ante by trying some new things. There’s the slightly odd climactic chanting of the title-track, actually singing – relatively gently – on Into The Abyss, and channelling his inner Liam Cormier on Broken Arrow, which is winningly Cancer Bats-esque. Of course elsewhere he snarls and roars away, making it a true Unearth album, while Buz McGrath also delivers on the solos, every one of them the perfect blend of technicality and hooky.

They will not win awards for originality, but The Wretched; The Ruinous is a reminder of how exciting metalcore can be when executed with passion and integrity, and that’s welcome in 2023.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Machine Head, Knocked Loose, Bury Your Dead

The Wretched; The Ruinous is out now via Century Media

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