Unearth takes control of its evolution

Boston band accompanies Slayer at the JLC tomorrow

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Unearth

WE WILL BRING ABOUT YOUR DESTRUCTION... ONCE WE FIND OUR WAY OUT OF TREVOR'S MOM'S BASEMENT. Unearth rages through London tomorrow night when it opens for metal legend Slayer.

Bands which stay true to a static style are either praised for remaining authentic or criticized for a lack of creativity.

Boston’s Unearth refuses to become mainstream metal; the band sets itself apart from its musical peers by using melodic instrumentals and hard-driving tempos to produce a heavy, fierce sound.

“We started back in 1998, when there wasn’t much of a real metal scene,” vocalist Trevor Phipps says. “We would play with hardcore bands, and that’s where our first following came from. It’s a great fan base to have, and now metal’s making a comeback, so that’s how we keep our fan base: by staying true to that sound.”

The band " Phipps, guitarists Ken Susi and Buz McGrath, bassist John Maggard and drummer Mike Justian " has played with well-known metal acts like Black Dahlia Murder, Atreyu and Slipknot.

The band’s newest record, III: In the Eyes of Fire, has a more organic feel than its previous releases because it was recorded without a click track, which helps synchronize audio recordings with cues.

“If a band wants to survive and stick around, you have to keep reinventing yourself in a way,” Phipps says. “Keep doing what you love to do, and keep it interesting for yourself and your fans.”

However, Phipps adds there’s a key distinction between evolution and compromise.

“Evolving a band’s sound can be legitimate in some cases, when it seems like a natural progression for a band [to change musically],” Phipps says. “With the band All That Remains, their old record was really heavy. The new one is heavy as well, even with the commercial parts, and it seems like it’s from the band.”

Phipps dislikes bands who homogenize their sound to become more mainstream.

“A lot of bands do it and it’s forced, and people can tell when a band quote-unquote ‘sells out,’” he says. “[Unearth has] an objection to that.”

Onstage, Unearth enjoys working the crowd into a frenzy and feeding off its fans’ energy.

“We go up and have a lot of fun " it’s a really high-energy show,” Phipps says. “We never stop moving. The whole point of doing this is to have fun, and we try to get the crowd to have fun. The more the crowd is enjoying themselves, the more fun we’re having.”

Phipps says the band plans to continue building its sound.

“We’ve been growing slowly each year, selling more copies of our records, and more people are coming to our shows,” he says. “It’s better to grow slowly than to blow up and disappear.

“...This is our career, so we want to keep on truckin’ and hope it stays at this level for a while.”

Unearth and Slayer play tomorrow night at the John Labatt Centre. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $44.25.

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