Jeffrey Easton of Metal Exiles recently conducted an interview with guitarist Ken Susi of Massachusetts metallers UNEARTH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Exiles: Trevor Phipps [vocals] said “Darkness In The Light” was the best [UNEARTH] record since “The Oncoming Storm”. What do you think “In The Eyes Of Fire” and “The March” were lacking?
Ken: The only way I can reference it is that when THE BEATLES came out they would play stuff like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Love Me Do” and stuff like that and then they get into stuff like “Sgt. Peppers”. For UNEARTH we did “The Stings Of Conscience” and “The Oncoming Storm” and people got used to what we did. At the time we thought there was going to be a huge climate change so we wanted to thrashier, more chaotic and faster, just different. We gained a lot of fans from doing that type of thing so those were records were done well. Now, do I think if those records were done properly, recorded well or sounded great? No I do not. I love “In The Eyes Of Fire”, though, it has a lot of great songs, and if you fast-forward to “The March”, that has some great songs as well and it is great for what it is and it was a step in the right direction and it was a great stepping stone to “Darkness In The Light”. I do not want to play the “This record is our best one yet” card, so I would rather say that I like this record a lot, it has all the ups and downs, it has spirit, the rhythm section is tight and the solos are great. I spent a lot of time on the songs and songwriting and I think the songs are well orchestrated than they have ever been. If you like “The Oncoming Storm” more, if you want to carry a torch for it, that’s good, but I can assure you that if you like that record you will love “Darkness In The Light”. Who am I to say, though?! That is for the public to decide, but I think it is a record I can get behind and listen to from top to bottom.
Metal Exiles: The opening track from “Darkness In The Light”, “Watch It Burn”, has an intro that really minds me of a lead off to an IRON MAIDEN track. Was that what you were going for?
Ken: We have been open in public since day one that we are huge IRON MAIDEN fans and sometimes it comes out. Believe it or not, the lead on the original take was double that length, but I had to cut it in half because I want the songs to start within the first 20 seconds with the vocals so I cut it short because it was almost a minute long. It was very MAIDEN-influenced in the intro, but the song has everything. The song has the 12-year-old me obsessing over MAIDEN, it has the traditional UNEARTH verse, it has a double breakdown back to back and right back to the verse. To me it was my favorite song that we have ever done, because it was able to capture the spirit of the band rolled into one package.
Metal Exiles: Adam Dutkiewicz is a great producer, [and] he brings so much to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. So what does he keep bringing to your records?
Ken: This is our third time using him, and the thing about Adam is he is a good friend of mine as well as the band’s and it is not so much of what he brings to the table is that he has the knowhow and his wisdom is very important. I think very highly of my friend and only one person every decade really changes something and Adam really changed metal for this decade. Adam is just like a Paul McCartney — ask him to write something and he will write it. For the way it works with UNEARTH, we will bring the material to him, and what it comes down to is emotional involvement and since Adam has no emotional involvement — meaning, he did not write the song — he can easily come in and orchestrate whether or not something is good or bad. You can say to him that “this part is awesome” and he will shoot back that it really isn’t as great as you think it is. Adam makes you step back and look at the song in a different light. George Martin, even though Lennon/McCartney were superior songwriters, was there to orchestrate everything. A great producer’s job is to keep everything in order and make sure you do not get to invested in the material and make the proper calls. Adam is meticulous, he makes sure the guitars and drums are tight and sound great. I co-produced this record so I was able to work on my own guitar and vocal parts as Adam was not there for most of the vocal tracking.
Read the entire interview from Metal Exiles.