With all the hype and ado regarding whether or not recent releases from big-leaguers like METALLICA and SLIPKNOT have recaptured said bands' once proven, but since lost (according to some) integrity and intensity, it's refreshing to know that one of tomorrow's torch-carriers have produced an effort that is undeniably solid and, not only true to form, but surpasses expectations laid from previous efforts. This is exactly what UNEARTH has done with "The March". Where "The Oncoming Storm" was the quintessence of metalcore before its fashionable downturn and "In The Eyes Of Fire" was a raging, hook-laden monster, "The March" sees UNEARTH redefining their genre now that the trendies have moved on. Beyond that, they have finally managed to cram the energy of their live show and nimble-fingered guitar wizardry of Buzz McGrath and Ken Susi into one spinning plate of metallic fire.
Other than the usual gripe that a handful of UNEARTH songs per album can tend to share more than a few commonalities in sound and delivery, repeated listens to "The March" offers little for fans to bitch about. Vocalist Trevor Phipps comes out enraged as ever, shouting his ass off about the nightmarish social issues that have typically filled his lyric sheets, but are now becoming a harsh reality. His spoken word segments and random gang shouts add a little dynamics to the vocal department, but are also the disc's most noticeable adherence to the staples of metalcore. On that topic, "The March" brings an expected amount of breakdown-ish and chugging riffs, though the extra helping of guitar wankage (aka: solos) courtesy of McGrath and Susi provide a balance the band has never had before. Another new addition to the UNEARTH arsenal is the use of eight-string guitars, which adds a beefy, growling effect to the title track and "Letting Go"; the latter tune also features the highlight of the album's lead work. Opener "My Will Be Done", "Crow Killer" and "Truth Or Consequences" (another eight-stringer) show the progress UNEARTH has made as songwriters, while still maintaining the same mosh-ready riffage the band has become known for. Perhaps a bit formulaic, "Grave Of Opportunity" tips its hat to "Master Of Puppets" a bit with an acoustic interlude that climaxes back into explosiveness and harmonies galore, while the surprisingly rocking "The Chosen" will come to be the band's new live anthem.
By no means a battering ram into new territory, "The March" does solidify UNEARTH's spot in metal's pecking order; if it hasn't moved them up a notch or two. Several comparisons can be made to the group's last two efforts, but it's obvious that progress has been made in both the songwriting and performance departments. In taking these steps forward, UNEARTH has been careful to not sacrifice any of the elements that have concreted their signature sound. Where many others have branched out to the cusp of reinvention with each passing album, "The March" has simply unleashed UNEARTH squared.