Unearth goes heavier against the mainstream

‘Playing naturally’ gives Unearth concerts spontaneity


Where: House of Blues in Cleveland

When: 6:30 p.m., September 7

How much? $19-$21

Breakups usually mean the end of something, but metal band Unearth saw it as a new beginning.

Bassist John “Slo” Maggard said the band originally played a lot of shows together in separate smaller bands such as, The Red Chord, Flatline, with fellow metal band All That Remains’ guitarist Mike Martin, and Second Division, until they each broke up and the former members came together in 1998 as Unearth in their hometown of Boston.

Influenced by classic hard rock bands like Iron Maiden and Slayer, Unearth’s sound melded into what Maggard described as a heavier, thrashier brand of metal with high pitched screaming vocals and a combination of seven-stringed guitars and five-stringed bass.

After releasing two EPs, which would later form into one as part of a live compilation album titled Our Days of Eulogy, and having two other albums under their belt, Unearth teamed up with Pantera and Deftones producer Terry Date for their latest album, III: In the Eyes of Fire.

“Heavy, relentlessly heavy” are the words Maggard used to describe the new album. He said the privilege of working with such a prolific producer as Date gave him and the band a new sense of confidence.

“It made me feel this was the type of thing I belong doing,” Maggard said.

As Unearth’s popularity has been rising, they’ve witnessed other metal bands such as Dillinger Escape Plan, Avenged Sevenfold and Underoath come to the forefront of popularity in the genre, which gave them mixed feelings.

“Basically, it is good that metal has risen and become a powerful force in the industry. A lot of metal is getting watered down with singing and stuff like that. Basically the new Nu-metal is rising up because of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown again. Killswitch (Engage) is the best at doing that, everyone else is pretty much copying,” said guitarist Ken Susi.

But while some metal bands have toned down their sound in favor of lighter, catchier music that will appeal more to the masses, Unearth has gone the opposite direction.

“We decided we would get heavier,” Maggard said.

This type of rebelling against the mainstream attitude is something Susi said helps the bands more than hinders them and allows them to be spontaneous and fun.

“A lot of bands fake it in the studio and live. We bring a real atmosphere to shows and don’t mind failing and succeeding by playing naturally.” Susi said.

Fun is something Unearth plan to have live. When asked what to expect from an Unearth performance, Susi replied “(Lots) of partying – beer funnels….heavy metal, spontaneity, if you will.”

Susi also compliments himself and the band on their down-to-earth mindset.

“(We) are five dudes that love to party, hang out and be in a band.” Susi said. “The fact is (we) are normal and level-headed.”

Contact ALL correspondent Kristen Kotz at [email protected].