Veteran metalcore band Unearth returned with its latest album Friday in the form of The Wretched; The Ruinous. Coming more than four years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Extinction(s), the 11-song record is a welcome return from the band. That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical content makes for its own appeal to the record’s presentation and will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the 36-minute album’s presentation. All things considered they make the album another welcome addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
The Wretched; The Ruinous, the latest album from Unearth, is a strong new offering from the veteran metalcore band. The album’s success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. From beginning to end, the arrangements featured throughout the record do not necessarily break any new ground for Unearth, however, the intensity of the arrangements is certain to get and keep listeners engaged and entertained. Audiences can easily make comparison to works from the likes of fellow metalcore acts As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage from song to song and sometimes even in the same song. Interestingly enough, the arrangements do not just stick to that formula. As the album progresses, listeners will also be able to make comparison to works from the likes of groove metal titans Lamb of God in ‘Dawn of the Militant.’ Considering the sound of Project 86’s latest album, Omni, audiences can even hear a stylistic comparison to works on that record here in ‘Into The Abyss.’ ‘Theaters of War’ meanwhile, the album’s finale, offers listeners more of a pure hardcore sound and style, further showing the band’s willingness to branch out from the sound that made it so popular throughout most of its catalog. Overall, the musical arrangements featured throughout this record offer listeners something familiar and something new all in one. Even in the familiar metalcore style songs, those arrangements present their own identity separate from the works already in the band’s existing catalog. That whole gives listeners reason enough to take in this record.
The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical side makes for its own interest. The lyrical content featured throughout the album is somewhat nihilistic to say the least. That is of note because so often, such lyrical content would be more commonly paired with doom type arrangements, not the intense, fiery works featured here. The album’s title track, for instance, is an ecologically-minded work that according to front man Trevor Phipps, addresses the ecological disasters happening globally and points the finger of blame squarely at mankind for what has happened.
On a similar note, the later entry, ‘Invictus’ presents more of that displeasure at what mankind has done to the planet and to itself. This is inferred relatively clearly as Phipps writes, “Give the Garden of Eden/We failed to know/Given the Garden of Eden/We failed our own/Possess the fuels to right our wrongs/Obsessed with wealth/We race to disorder/Timeworn – contest/Advancement stalls/Unrest – mass death/Our world suffers once more/Breakdown of the nations around you/Collapse of all order/Our loss to Invictus/Devotions waste us away.” This content hints at it being a commentary about how humans have been given so many good things and even considering that humans have found a way to ruin things for themselves. The statement is deepened somewhat as the song continues to state, “Witness the apocalypse/Lost/Sine Qua non/Contest to feed/Our venom soars/One thirst/One fill/Filled over and over/We failed.” This is a stark indictment of what humans have done to themselves. Again, such a lyrical presentation is typically associated with more doom metal style arrangements, so for the band to approach the song with such musical fire alongside that damning commentary makes the lyrical topic all the more engaging.
‘Theaters of War,’ the album’s finale, is yet another example of what makes this album’s lyrical content just as important as the record’s musical arrangements. While the song’s title hints at something having to do with military combat, the song’s lyrics point in a different direction, with the combat happening not in major theaters of combat, but within our own nation. This is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Theaters of war/Living out our nightmares/Every day outpaces the last/Can we change the outcome/You do what you’re told/You do what you’re asked/Hate sets in/Distrust in all that surrounds us/Fuel to win/Separate/For Your cause/escalate/Beholden to your own/Tear down those that don’t see eye to eye/Tribal instincts waken/You do what you’re told/You do what you’re asked/I won’t turn my back on my own/Never give in/.Never retreat/Never kneel.” This commentary is clear. Our nation, our own country, has become its own theater of war as its own citizens have become the combatants thanks to the powers that be. It is a familiar theme in the rock and metal community, but just as hard-hitting here as in any other band’s songs. That defiant cry that one will not give in, retreat or kneel goes right along with that familiar theme. The whole serves as yet another damning statement of what has become of our world and it goes hand in hand with the rest of the sharp sociopolitical commentaries that fill this album. When this and the rest of the lyrical content examined here is considered along with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s overall lyrical content. When that collective lyrical content is considered along with its musical counterparts, that overall content makes for more than enough reason for audiences to take in this record.
While the musical and lyrical content featured in this record do plenty to keep audiences engaged and entertained, they are just part of what makes the album appealing to most listeners. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements. As already noted, the musical arrangements featured in this record are heavy and intense. Thankfully though, thanks to the work of those behind the boards, no one member of the band overpowers his fellow musicians in his performance. This is always a concern with heavier records because of how easy it would be for any songs to be washed out. Thankfully that does not happen here. The result is that each song is powerful in its own right and the album in whole has a positive general effect. When this is taken into account along with the impact of the songs themselves and their lyrical counterparts, the whole of the album becomes one more welcome addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
The Wretched; The Ruinous, the new album from Unearth, is a strong new effort from the veteran metalcore outfit. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements offer much of the familiar metalcore styling for which the band has come to be known while also adding in some newer material. This all while the more familiar styling offers its own unique identity from one song to the next. The intensity of the songs’ musical arrangements becomes even more interesting considering the indictments of the human race in each song’s lyrical content. That juxtaposition makes the record all the more engaging. The record’s production puts the final touch to the whole, making for a positive general effect through the balance of the instrumentation and vocals in each song. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered they make The Wretched; The Ruinous a strong new offering from Unearth that is also another welcome addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
The Wretched; The Ruinous is available now through Century Media. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at: