III: In The Eyes Of Fire

[4/5] With 2004’s blistering The Oncoming Storm, Massachusetts metalcore mavens Unearth established themselves among the American metal elite with a disc, that cemented the perfect balance between the band’s hardcore and Euro-metal leanings. That equilibrium doesn’t seem as present on their latest, III: In The Eyes Of Fire, which spends a greater amount of time exploring the band’s Gothenburg and ’80s thrash-metal influences than before, yielding a range of results. At The Gates and In Flames disciples will bask in the galloping rhythms and the dizzying depths of guitarists Ken Susi and Buz McGrath’s ever-intertwined riffs and electrifying lead acrobatics (like the ominous gurgle of “The Devil Has Risen” and the dueling leads on “So It Goes”), but listeners attuned to the more pummeling aspects of Unearth’s earlier records may not be as enthused. Perhaps it was the chance to work with famed producer Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Soundgarden) that inspired the band to focus more on their technical/orchestral leanings this time out-or maybe it’s just part of the band’s evolution. Whatever the impetus, III is still as good a reason as any to go metal-thrashing mad this summer, proving yet again why Unearth are one of the very best at what they do-even if that definition remains in flux. (METAL BLADE) Brendan Manley

ROCKS LIKE: Killswitch Engage’s The End Of Heartache • As I Lay Dying’s Shadows Are Security • At The Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul