Unearth are back to form with Darkness in the Light. The songwriting has attained more aggression, and Phipps sounds as good as he ever has. Still very much metalcore, there is a lot of melody on this album. It’s almost as if they are sneaking it in wherever they can, around the breakdowns, like metalcore hoarders who are packing in elements of melodic death subversively. Lyrically the band remains the same, which is not bad but nothing amazing, sort of par for the course political, emotional, somewhat angry lyrics. Adam Dutkiewicz produces and Justin Foley, of Killswitch Engage handles drums.
Guitars by Ken Susi and Buz McGrath rip it up and incorporate melody very well between the breakdown parts, Eyes of Black is a great example of the blending of these two things. The guitar harmonies seem to have improved and become more seamless on this album. They do an excellent job of being somewhat intricate and not destroying the metalcore sound that fans of the band are looking for. Nothing here is groundbreaking but it is all very solid work, and that works for the songs themselves. There are some great shred-tastic moments like the opening of Arise the War Cry. I’ve read that songwriting duties were more evenly split between the two; when the work is spread out that can help a band become energized as the guitars work off each other and not one against the other. Bass is handled by John “Slo” Maggard who basically adds a lower tone and sonic heaviness to the overall heavy aspect of the sound but does not stand out much either way. The song Equinox acts as a sort of grand sonic bridge between the heavier tracks, and shows off John Maggard’s songwriting skill. It starts with some piano, builds like a train getting going and drops back abruptly to piano again. It’s a really interesting track and it does add in a significant way to the album. Trevor Phipps has a great aggressive growl that fits well with this type of music. Whether or not you like the juxtaposition of his growl with Ken Susi’s clean vocals could probably be determined by asking whether or not you like KSE. Some songs work better than others in that regard, but either way Phipps brings his top game to Darkness in the Light, songs like the closer, Disillusion, are evidence of him at his best. Justin Foley handles the drums, providing the right amount of everything at the right time as he usually does, which helps to define each song. I’m not sure what future plans are for the drum position, but hopefully they will be along the lines of Foley as he’s really a damn near perfect fit.
Overall Darkness in the Light is a very solid metalcore album. Maybe it’s not exactly up to The Oncoming Storm’s level, but a great effort and probably at a higher level than The March in terms of Trevor Phipps and the guitar work. If you’re an Unearth fan this is a safe bet with some moments of greatness. If you’re a metalcore fan Unearth is well worth checking out.