Countless bands have been inspired by the abundance of radio-friendly hooks and choruses surfacing in today’s popular metalcore. Unearth are the exception. While other groups have been motivated to make their songs more commercial, Unearth have gone the opposite direction.
“A lot of our friends who used to be in kick-ass metal and hardcore bands are adding these pop choruses now for no reason,” grumbles frontman Trevor Phipps. “I think they’re making the same mistakes that all the bands in the early ’90s made when metal turned to complete horseshit. They’re totally watering down their tunes to sell more records. We’re just trying to prove that bands can still sell records and tour and have a career by making a heavy fucking record.”
III: In the Eyes of Fire isn’t just heavy, it’s downright brutal – a menacing combination of speed, precision and intensity that grips and shakes like a shark tearing apart its prey. Taking its cue from the most destructive offerings of Slayer, Pantera, Earth Crisis and Iron Maiden, the music is structurally complex, and emotionally furious. Album opener “This Glorious Nightmare” hits the ground running, stomping its vapid peers with razor-sharp cleats as unforgettable riffs meld with tumbling beats and voracious howls. After opening with a classical-style guitar harmony, “March of the mutes” plows into a series of menacing guitar rhythms and “Sanctity in Brothers” slays with angular licks and galloping drums that coalesce in a vortex of aggression and contempt.
“We tried to take our sound and move it one step forward,” says guitarist Ken Susi. “We’ve always wanted to be the heaviest band out there and we’re ready to tear people’s heads off.”
In addition to being fast and heavy, III: In the Eyes of Fire is also strikingly musical and surprisingly memorable. The songs are filled with rib-sticking riffs, colossal breakdowns and enticing guitar harmonies that never detract from the overall intensity of the songs. “We love Iron Maiden and we’ve always integrated those kinds of guitar harmonies,” Susi says. “But when we did it before it was a little overwhelming and now it’s just a subtlety. Now, we’re just heavy, heavy metal and within that brutality, we have those touches.”
One reason the record sounds so brutal is because it was recorded in an organic style without a click track. To help Unearth achieve the kind of raw ferocity they create in concert the band worked closely with producer Terry Date, who has previously worked with Pantera, Deftones and Soundgarden. “He was a fan of the band already, so it just worked and was a very happy marriage,” Phipps says. “We flew to Seattle to record at Studio X, which was a different experience for us. We were used to recording with Adam D (Killswitch Engage) in Massachusetts, where we’re from. This time, we were out of our home element and thrown into this whole new life, and I think that contributed to the feel of the record.”
Unearth titled the album III: In The Eyes of Fire because they thought the name best reflected the challenges and obstacles that human beings confront on a daily basis. As with The Oncoming Storm, some of the tracks discuss global and domestic politics, but this time Phipps wanted to delve more deeply into the battles that rage in the mind and soul. “We all have problems as we walk through life, and I’m no exception,” he explains. “So, this is more a personal reflection of myself and people in general that I think more listeners will be able to relate to.”