REVIEW: Unearth’s Watchers of Rule

UNEARTH has been defined as metal and melodic metal core. With their sixth studio album, Watchers of Rule, they are able to pull together these genres as one; all things heavy and intricate guitar work. The Massachusetts based band unfolds their aggression in heavy yet melodic demeanor in 42 intense minutes and that is putting it lightly.

After a nice buildup of harmonies from the intro, Watchers of Rule‘s first full song, “The Swarm,” opens fast and hard-hitting and fulfills itself with tight guitar choking with dead-on production. Unearth was able to find a way to combine the speed and thrash-style metal in the beginning, with a huge guitar solo in the middle, and a hard-hitting breakdown at the end without feeling forced or pieced together.

Front man Trevor Phipps is no holds barred when it comes to belting out his hostility against a wall of massive breakdowns and a hail of machine gun sound drumming. This makes the melodic parts of each song sound that much stimulating, especially when it comes to guitarist Ken Susi’s dynamic vocal shift against these aggressive growls and screams.

One song that stuck out to me in particular was “From the Tombs of Five Below.” The leads are incredibly tight and flow perfectly. You can hear the human touch but the timing is so perfect one would think it could be quantized. That’s what 15 years of being a band will do for your ability. The transitioning from 4/4 to 6/8 feels natural and a time signature change is a nice break to put on the fifth track, as it helps keep the ears alert and songs fresh. The “false ending” with the solo then coming back in with the vocals was incredibly aggressive-sounding and has a phenomenal payoff with the breakdown at the end.
“To the Ground” may be the most interesting song on the record. The horror chords in the beginning are terrifying; this song has Norma Jean written all over it. The use of these chords makes this song stand out from the rest of the record, as they had been so focused on melody and harmony early, now to hear those, changes the entire dynamic. It’s a very different sound from the rest of the tracks. This song came as quite the surprise. The rhythm guitar playing, drumming, and vocals stay true to the rest of the album, but that one instrumental change creates an entirely new dynamic that a listener would not expect to hear. I personally thought it was a nice surprise.

The last song, “Watchers of Rule” could have easily been the first track on the record with the kind of crazed energy it brings. The lyrics of this get stuck in your hand and are perfect for crowd participation during live shows. The repeating of “All Faces Down” begs for pile-ups. The build into the solo was well done, and the music behind the solo was great as it started incredibly fast, and broke down into half-time. Vocals coming over the continuing solo just made it that much better. As the song progresses, it becomes clear why it’s the closer on the album. It’s a definitive ending to this album, as its darker tones and solidified hits remind you of what you enjoyed about the record from the moment the intro started.

Overall, Watchers of Rule is a very tightly written and aggressively played record. With that being said, it is the tension filled build up that really pays off when the sudden attack of each break down enters each song. Each member’s astounding burst of energy on each track is truly commendable and is what stands out thus overall.

UNEARTH will be hitting the road this Fall with Darkest Hour, Carnifex, Origin, I Breather and Black Crown Initiate. Tour dates are below:

Date City Venue
October 13, 2014      Montreal, QC        Les Foufounes Electriques
October 14, 2014      Ottawa, On        Mavericks
October 15, 2014      Toronto, ON        Opera House
October 16, 2014      Joliet, IL        Mojoes
October 17, 2014      Rochester, NY        Montage Music Hall
October 18, 2014      Worcester, MA        Palladium
October 19, 2014      New York, NY        Studio At Webster Hall
October 20, 2014      Springfield, VA        Empire
October 21, 2014      Covington, KY        Madison Theater
October 22, 2014      Winston-Salem,NC        Ziggy’s

Pick up the record when it hits shelves on October 28th via eOne Music.