Album Review – Unearth / The Wretched; The Ruinous (2023)

Celebrating almost 25 years on the road, Boston’s own Death Metal/Metalcore beast returns with a demolishing opus, a concept album that follows the current effects of the man-made climate crisis.

On album number eight, titled The Wretched; The Ruinous, Boston, Massachusetts-based Death Metal/Metalcore outfit Unearth not merely continues to amp-up their metal-meets-hardcore intensities, but they also exceed themselves with a record that incorporates elements of classic Unearth offerings dating back to their 2004 “breakthrough” album The Oncoming Storm, while exploring beyond the recent back-to-basics promise of their 2018 effort Extinction(s). Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Will Putney at Graphic Nature Audio, and displaying a stylish artwork by Alexandre Goulet, The Wretched; The Ruinous is a concept album that follows the current effects of the man-made climate crisis as well as what will happen in the years to come if drastic and immediate changes are not made to curb emissions, and monumental efforts are not made to repair and adjust to the damages already done, all wrapped up by the fulminating yet very melodic music by vocalist Trevor Phipps, guitarist Buz McGrath, bassist Chris O’Toole and drummer Mike Justian.

The title-track The Wretched; The Ruinous is freakin’ madness from the very first second, with Mike showing no mercy for his drums nor for our necks, inviting us all to slam into the circle pit to the demented growls by Trevor. In Cremation of the Living the quartet fires more of their acid Metalcore with Melodic Death Metal nuances while its lyrics exhale insanity (“Exist – perish / Discordant nature / All turned to dust / Enraged creator / Victims to shepherds of fear”), followed by Eradicator, another pulverizing tune by the band with Buz delivering sheer electricity from his guitar supported by the metallic bass by Chris. Mother Betrayal sounds and feels more atmospheric and melodic than its predecessors, and it’s interesting how Trevor “abandoned” his clean singing in the entire album just like what we can enjoy in this song. Then it’s pedal to the metal as the quartet will smash our cranial skulls inside the pit with Invictus, a lecture in modern-day Metalcore sounding heavier and harsher than any of the songs form their previous efforts.

Call of Existence brings to our avid ears an amazing guitar job done by Buz, helping to balance the song’s aggressiveness with more melodic riffs and striking solos while Mike dictates the song’s headbanging pace behind his drums. They offer more of their visceral Metalcore in Dawn of the Militant, inspiring us to keep the circle pit action going while Trevor continues to roar and scream manically. After that, the serene interlude Aniara will soothe our souls before we’re treated to another diabolical attack by Unearth titled Into the Abyss, showcasing a solid sonority led by Buz and Chris with their stringed weapons, albeit not as thrilling as the rest of the album. Back to a more infernal mode we have Broken Arrow, where Trevor screams the song’s lyrics in great fashion (“Fire in the sky / Awoken infernal slumber / Peaceful days now ill remembered / Failed to deliver / Accidents of mass destruction / Lie in wait yet not forever”) in a display of fast and crushing Metalcore for the masses; whereas lastly you’ll break your neck headbanging to Theaters of War, with Mike hammering his drums in the name of heavy music for our total delight.

Unearth are waiting for you on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube with news, tour dates and more of their amazing music, and if you want to give The Wretched; The Ruinous a spin you can find the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase it by clicking HERE or HERE. “We formed this band to make music for us, not trying to create something for anyone else. As soon as we did that people connected to it, and it’s kept us pushing onward for almost 25 years. We look forward to 25 more,” commented the band about their almost 25 years of career, but let’s be honest and admit that it’s us fans who got a very nice anniversary gift with the release of their awesome new album, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: The Wretched; The Ruinous, Invictus and Broken Arrow.

Worst moments of the album: Into the Abyss.

Released in 2023 Century Media

Track listing
1. The Wretched; The Ruinous 4:20
2. Cremation of the Living 3:20
3. Eradicator 3:28
4. Mother Betrayal 3:32
5. Invictus 3:45
6. Call of Existence 3:33
7. Dawn of the Militant 2:57
8. Aniara 0:57
9. Into the Abyss 3:24
10. Broken Arrow 2:51
11. Theaters of War 4:49

Band members
Trevor Phipps – vocals
Buz McGrath – guitars
Chris O’Toole – bass
Mike Justian – drums