Unearth pack a lot of extreme metal into a quick 36 minutes. The songs are full of energy and power while not overbearing the listener with ear overload. Minus the infectious chant (a highlight for me because it reminds me of the guards in The Wizard of Oz) in album opener and title track “The Wretched; The Ruinous,” they keep everything as heavy and intense as humanly possible. The riffs are harshly melodic; the double bass pounds throughout and the vocals are just brutal.
Unearth have basically kept to their style of metallic hardcore with melodic-like riffs and throaty screams since their inception back in the late ’90s. While they have admittedly (and unfortunately) fallen off my radar in recent years, The Wretched; The Ruinous harkens me back to the early 2000s when I would blare The Strings of Consciousness and The Oncoming Storm consistently. This shows that they didn’t need to alter their sound to continue to release strong albums.
The return of drummer Mike Justain, performing on his first album since III: In the Eyes of Fire, is a huge plus for the band. One of the best metal drummers out there, his presence is immediately noticed (not to knock any of their previous drummers, who are all immensely talented). He adds a lot of rhythms that adds a lot to each song while not being in the forefront.
The guitar playing of longtime member Buz McGrath is as good as ever. His leads add so much to the songs. It’s rare when there isn’t an intriguing guitar part driving the song. He more than picks up the slack with the departure of rhythm guitarist Ken Susi.
Their first album since 2018 hits all the right notes and feels. The songs are all tightly crafty and played superbly. Unearth sound as strong as ever. The Metal Gods are smiling in approval.