Unearth - Watchers of Rule (3Wise Records)

A metalcore tour de force...
Release Date: 
30 Oct 2014 - 11:30pm

After a deliciously Judas Priestesque three quarter minute intro, it’s business as usual for metalcore veterans Unearth for the rest of this, their sixth studio album (and first since 2011’s Darkness in the Light). Clearly, the success of such a ploy will have much to do with how you relate to Watchers…,  but suffice to say if you’ve even found just a little to like about their recorded output thus far, you’re gonna love the pants off this ‘un.

Put simply, Watchers of Rule is a metalcore tour de force, and the fact that you’ve heard it all before from this band (not to mention hundreds of other pale imitations of same) is just rendered utterly unimportant by the extreme killing power displayed all over the record. Opening track proper The Swarm lays down the law in staggeringly stentorian style, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg to be frank; you will need to immerse yourself a few times before this album’s true splendour reveals itself to you, but when it does – whether it be through the good offices of the out and out metallic assault of Guards of Contagion or From the Tombs of Five Below, or the no-less-heavy but devastatingly ornate guitar overkill of Never Cease – you’ll be utterly blown away by the skill, craft and passion on offer.

Guitarists Buz McGrath and Ken Susi are the stars here, natch, and the gut wrenching power they display, when mixed with both players’ mesmerising dexterity, leaves the listener gasping on more than one occasion in just about every song, but props are, as ever, also due to unstoppable vocalist Trevor Phipps who is, well… unstoppable, as he deploys his unforgiving vocal blast furnace technique to every song in a fashion that’ll leave you exhausted and begging for mercy just listening to it – Christ knows how the man himself keeps it up, but he does, and the consequence of this is that he stands apart from just about any other vocalist in the metalcore sphere as a true champion. On this form you’d have to say he’s metalcore’s finest throat, bar none.

That metalcore has had its day may be a debatable point of view – that Unearth are unquestionably the finest band to emerge from the genre is not. And whatever happens to the scene that birthed them, it’s to be hoped that the band sticks to its guns and releases a few more albums of this quality yet. Marvellous stuff.