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From left: Ken, Trevor, Nick, Buz

Unearth are an American Metalcore band forming in 1998. The band formed in Massachusetts.

Unearth was formed by Trevor Phipps, Buz McGrath, Ken Susi, Mike Rudberg, and Chris Rybicki. Now important member Phipps was reluctant to join until showing up to a jam session for one of Susi's side bands, Unearth, and Phipps agreed to join after hearing the song "Shattered by the Sun." They released their first EP called Above the Fall of Man in May 1999 on an independent label, then signed to Eulogy Recordings to release The Stings of Conscience in 2001 and the Endless EP in 2002. During the process of recording Endless, Chris Rybicki left the group and was replaced by John Maggard.

Mike Rudberg departed from the group days after their performance at The SXSW in 2003, having performed the show in the nude. The rest of Unearth would then use Tim Mycek of Sworn Enemy as temporary replacement drummer and Kia Eshghi of Rumi on guitar. Before Buz returned, Mike Martin from All That Remains also filled in for him. After Buz's return, Adam D from Killswitch Engage also filled in on drums for the last 2 months of the year.

The second album, The Oncoming Storm, was relased in 2004 under Metal Blade records, with Mike Justian debuting as Rudberg's permanent replacement. This album made them a big name in the metalcore community, gaining huge hype from the fanbase despite mixed critical reception, and achieving the relatively rare feat of selling over 100,000 copies (their next three albums all followed suit). In the summer of 2004, they toured alongside Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage.

In 2006, the band released III: In the Eyes of Fire. Shortly afterward, Mike Justian was fired from the band for numerous reasons, and Gene Hoglan of Strapping Young Lad was recruited on a temporary basis, before Derek Kerswill became the new permanent drummer in 2007. 2008 saw the release of The March, a concept album based on humanity as a whole. The album also featured a re-recording of "The Chosen", which appears on Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie.

Former bassist Chris Rybicki, who was one of the original members, had passed away in a car accident in 2010.

Kerswill would leave in October 2010, with the band bringing in Justin Foley to do session work for their fifth album, entitled Darkness in the Light, which was released in 2011. Later in the year, the band recruited Nick Pierce as a live fill-in on drums, and then brought him in permanently in January 2012.

In October 2014, the band put out their sixth album, Watchers of Rule; many noticed that Maggard was not credited on the album, and interviews around this time confirmed that he is no longer in the band. The bassist position has yet to be filled, but Matt DeVries had been touring with the band since 2013, when Maggard stopped being able to tour. As of the end of 2014, DeVries has stepped down from the position (not to mention music in general, at least for the time being) and former Savage Messiah bassist Chris O'Toole has taken his place.

This line-up would remain together through production of the band's seventh album Extinction(s), released in 2018, with O'Toole achieving full-time status in that time. They initially weathered the COVID-19 Pandemic well enough, but as of 2022 their line-up has started shuffling again, with both the departure of Pierce after a decade with the group and the surprise announcement of Susi going on hiatus; that both have been spotted working with As I Lay Dying in the wake of their own turnover cast doubt on Susi's long-term future with the group. Regardless, the remaining members, with the addition of Peter Layman (a former touring fill-in from the mid-2000s) and the even more surprising return of Mike Justian, have pressed forward. Their eighth album, The Wretched; The Ruinous, released in May 2023; interviews clarified that Pierce wrote and recorded for it but Susi (who was confirmed to have permanently departed that March) did not.

Current Members:

  • Trevor Phipps – lead vocals (1998–present)
  • Buz McGrath – lead guitar (1998–present)
  • Peter Layman - rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2022-present)
  • Mike Justian – drums, percussion (2004-2007, 2022–present)
  • Chris O'Toole - bass, backing vocals (2015-present)

Former Members:

Bass, Backing vocals:
  • Chris "Rover" Rybicki (1998-2001)
  • John "Slo" Maggard (2001-circa 2013-14)
  • Mike Rudberg (1998-2003)
  • Derek Kerswill (2007-2010)
  • Nick Pierce (2012-2022)
  • Ken Susi – rhythm guitar, backing/clean vocals (1998–2022)


  • Above the Fall of Man (EP) (1999)
  • The Stings of Conscience (2001)
  • Endless (EP) (2002)
  • The Oncoming Storm (2004)
  • III: In the Eyes of Fire (2006)
  • The March (2008)
  • Darkness in the Light (2011)
  • Watchers of Rule (2014)
  • Extinction(s) (2018)
  • The Wretched; The Ruinous (2023)

Unearth Displays examples of These tropes:

  • All Drummers Are Animals:
    • Deconstructed with Rudberg, whose infamous SXSW 2003 performance caused a My God, What Have I Done? moment and his departure from the band the next morning.
    • Justian had some moments of this, including a picture of him doing pull-ups off a 3D band logo that happened to be within arm's reach of his drumkit.
  • All Just a Dream: It's revealed at the end of the "Zombie Autopilot" video that large chunks of it, including the Office Drone throwing a file folder at his boss and quitting, were just a dream he was having on the subway.
  • The Alleged Car: Trevor once described their original touring van as being this by 2003, calling it a "monstrosity" that he said "needed the oil changed every 600 miles" and "lost two tires a day". Exaggerated after it was rear-ended while the band was driving to pick up a fill-in drummer following Rudberg's departure; after that point, it sported a faulty exhaust pipenote  that began spewing fumes into the back, causing the group to experience bizarre dreams involving "Bill Cosby and death".
  • The Cameo: A veritable wellspring of these on the "Grave of Opportunity" video, which seems to have crammed half the Massachusetts Metalcore scene into one house party to play the song on Guitar Hero World Tour. Based on the video's YouTube comments, the most obvious (both for recognition and because he's hamming it up to the camera) is Phil Labonte.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Very nearly happened to Nick Pierce. A very old back injury that he never dealt with (that turned out to be a slipped disc that had been like that for so long that it had actually started to calcify and subsequently pierced his spine and caused him to leak fluid) led to nerve damage that caused his right leg to atrophy to the point where it was noticeably withering. It was only due to surgery and a fairly lengthy recovery period that involved a significant amount of physical therapy that he didn't have to exit both Unearth and music as a whole.
  • Careful with That Axe: Trevor has done this a lot.
  • Concept Album: The March is based on the good and bad sides of humanity.
  • Concept Video: Their most famous videos tend to feature thematic imagery related to the lyrics (as seen in "Watch It Burn"), if not a full storyline (as seen in "Zombie Autopilot"), mixed in with performance shots of the band.
  • Cover Version: The deluxe version of Watchers of Rule features a cover of Slayer's "Spirit in Black".
  • Darker and Edgier: Watchers of Rule, which dialed back the melodic passages and eliminated the clean vocals used at points on Darkness In The Light. Lyrically, it seems to be the most cynical album of their career, with a lot of lyrics about both personal failure and societal collapse.
    • Lighter and Softer: Darkness in turn had been this compared to III: In The Eyes Of Fire and The March, as it had bumped up the number of melodic passages, while the aforementioned clean vocals hadn't been heard from since The Oncoming Storm. The lyrics were also more optimistic than The March (which, like Watchers, was on the cynical side), and possibly also more so than their first three albums.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Real Life example with fill-in guitarist Kia Eshghi, who happened to contract a severe chest cold after joining up in Buz's absence during early 2003. After giving the cold to Ken, he then shared a bottle of pills with him as well, claiming they were "for coughing". What Eshghi and Ken apparently missed was that the pills were designed to induce coughing rather than suppressing it. After taking the pills and going to asleep, the duo woke up around 3:00 am and not only found themselves coughing uncontrollably, but puking as well.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The cover art for The Oncoming Storm depicts the eponymous storm as an enormous tornado bearing down on a major urban skyline. The inside art of the liner notes likewise continues in this theme, although the songs that have environmentalist lyrics tend to vacillate between this and Gaia's Lament.
  • Grief Song: "Last Wish". The band has stated it is a memorial to several people they knew who ended up in permanent vegetative states after some kind of trauma, although the most obvious is Chris Rybicki, who lay in a coma for three and a half weeks between the car accident and his actual death. The song is sung from the perspective of the soul of one such individual, who has been permanently separated from his body but can't move on while it remains on life support, and while he certainly didn't want to leave his family behind, he's come to accept his fate and wishes for them to do the same.
  • Iconic Item: Maggard was known for wearing a bandana at many concerts and in almost all the music videos he was in.
  • Kangaroo Court: The protagonist of "Giles"note  is fully aware that he's facing one of thesenote  and Takes a Third Option via Thanatos Gambit, enduring an attempt to torture a plea out of him until he dies.
  • Lead Bassist: Maggard was a type B. Chris Rybicki might be a type C due to his death.
  • Loophole Abuse: The protagonist of "Giles" pulls this off via Thanatos Gambit.
  • Loudness War: It doesn't matter who's been behind the boards,note  all of their albums show signs of heavy brickwalling. The worst is probably The March, though.
  • Metalcore: One of the bigger names in the melodic metalcore boom, as well as one of the very few acts to retain something close to their peak status (compared to, say, Shadows Fall, who were far bigger in their heyday but fell hard). They were not a Trope Codifier, however, as they emerged after the big three of the Western Mass bands had moved up from event halls and Fat Cat (a venue in Springfield where all of the early Western Mass bands played most of their early shows and honed their craft) and were getting on big tours; their emergence on the Western Mass scene occurred roughly concurrently with early days of The Acacia Strain and the now-forgotten Cannae.
  • Meaningful Name: Meta example; Mike Rudberg coined the term as he wanted the band to "Unearth" a new sound.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Watchers of Rule was faster and heavier, significantly increasing the Melodic Death Metal influences.
    • Before that, The March is where the solo presence shifted from "a nice once-an-album treat" to being present on about half their songs. The band also seems to have begun using one-guitarist solos when this happened, although the hand-off style typified by "Zombie Autopilot" and "The Chosen" is still present.
    • Exinction(s) is something of a return to their early style, downplaying most of the melodic death metal elements that became increasingly prominent with each album in favor of a more straightforward hardcore and metallic hardcore-oriented approach.
  • Office Drone: The video for "Zombie Autopilot" concerns itself with one of these.
  • Oh, Crap!: The police officer in the "The Great Dividers" video has this reaction when the fans start ripping the tape off their mouths. Notably, just moments earlier he didn't even flinch when Trevor was shouting the song's lyrics directly into his ear.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Both Rybicki and Maggard are mainly referred to by their nicknames "Rover" and "Slo", respectively, when talked of by the other members. This spread to the fanbase as a result.
    • Buz to an even greater extent; the band's Wikipedia page doesn't even list his legal first name, in contrast to Rover and Slo. It seems that the only reason said name is public knowledge is that Century Media and/or their parent company Sony Music chose to credit him under that name instead of his nickname when posting the songs from Extinction(s) on YouTube.note 
  • Patched Together from the Headlines: The "Watch It Burn" video does a visual take on the trope, using footage from various global eventsnote  alongside more generic images of warnote  and footage of ecological destruction.
  • Performance Video: The majority of their music videos are either concert shoots ("Black Hearts Now Reign" and "Never Cease", for example), or rehearsal-style videos ("Giles").
  • Persona Non Grata: The band ran into problems during its early run of tours due to Chris Rybicki having had previous encounters with the Canadian authorities, which made entry for him (and by extension the band as a whole) into the country difficult. This culminated in an incident in 2001 where they were turned away at the border after Canadian border patrol found Rybicki inebriated in the back of the tour van, having consumed an entire fifth of vodka in one go in an attempt to hide said fifth from customs. He was apparently barred from entering Canada again after this, which eventually led to his departure and replacement by John Maggard.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Buz in particular is this, and so is Ken to only a slightly lesser degree. Most of their former bassists and drummers, too. Averted by Trevor, who has about a head's height on Ken, and by Nick, who has about half a head on Trevor.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: The Office Drone from the "Zombie Autopilot" video apparently works for one of these, based on the way he sees the boss as an actual demon at one point.
  • Police Are Useless: The video for "The Great Dividers" features the "Hopelessly Outmatched" variant, although incompetence is also implied as someone thought it was a good idea to send a single plainclothes officer to deal with an illegal gathering numbering somewhere around thirty (consisting of the band, set up to perform in the middle of a street late at night for a smattering of fans).
  • Protest Song: A major theme (along with the Green Aesops) throughout their existence, as Trevor, the main lyricist, has a rather low opinion of many governments around the world, including America's, and is unafraid to express those opinions through the band's work.
  • Re-release the Song: "The Chosen" was re-recorded for The March after featuring on the soundtrack for Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters the previous year. This is especially evident as the original version is much less subject to the Loudness War than the album version (The March as a whole was probably their most brickwallwd album).
  • Revolving Door Band: Trevor, Ken and Buz have been nearly constant throughout the band's existence. However, they had particular trouble keeping drummers since Mike Rudberg left in 2003,note  with only Mike Justian and Nick Pierce lasting long enough to record multiple albums.note  When John first started missing tour dates in 2013, they also had a few different live bassists and waited until they were entering the studio for Extinction(s) to officially announce O'Toole as the permanent replacement. (the liner notes for Watchers of Rule don't list a session bassist, leading many to believe that another member, usually thought to be Ken or Buz, recorded the bass tracks for that album) As of 2022, the revolving door is spinning again, with both Nick and Ken exiting, and Justian and former touring fill-in Peter Layman (re-)entering.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Office Drone in the "Zombie Autopilot" video seems to suffer from this up to the point where he quits his job. How much of this was solely due to the dream state he was in is unclear.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the video for "The Great Dividers", the police officer runs when he realizes he's lost all semblance of control over the situation. His fate is left unclear but probably wasn't good, as at least four fans are right on his tail as he flees.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Generally more ideal, though The March and Watchers of Rule are pretty clearly more cynical.
  • Soprano and Gravel: A handful of songs, such as "Lie To Purify", have seen Ken Susi provide clean vocals, usually interweaving with Phipps' shouting.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: They used to play with this once an album at minimum, until Watchers of Rule.
    • "Aries" from The Oncoming Storm is probably the straightest example in their discography between the mostly clean guitars and the piano, but even then Trevor's the only vocalist on that one (although the vocals are way down in the mix relative to the rest of the album).
    • III: In The Eyes Of Fire has a slow, mournful clean guitar section (but with distortion in the background) at 3:20-4:06 in the otherwise fast and heavy "Unstoppable". The album-closing instrumental, "Big Bear And The Hour Of Chaos", also features clean guitars and is probably a better example overall.
    • The March has "Letting Go", which is basically a stab at doing this with only distorted guitars and screaming vocals, as well as heavy percussion. It's very effective, though.
    • "Equinox", from Darkness In the Light, brings back both the clean guitars and the pianos, as well as some spoken word sections from Ken at the beginning, but Trevor's vocals are mixed much higher compared to "Aries", basically at the same level as the rest of Darkness.
  • Special Guest: Justin Foley of Killswitch Engage played session drums on Darkness
    • On "Grave of Opportunity" and "We Are Not Anonymous", Cory Brandan, Scottie Henry, Chris Day, and Jake Schultz, all of Norma Jean, provided additional vocals.
    • Additionally, Matt DeVries had been their touring bassist since 2013, when John Maggard stopped being able to tour. He has since dropped out of music at least temporarily, and Chris O'Toole has become their new live bassist. Jordan Mancino additionally filled in for Pierce in 2016 while the latter recovered from back surgery.
    • Daniel "DL" Laskiewicz made some guest writing contributions on Extinction(s).
  • Thanatos Gambit: The protagonist of "Giles" allows himself to be tortured to death to ensure his family will inherit his estate, rather than the Kangaroo Court.
  • True Companions: In a 2011 interview, Trevor Phipps characterized the relationship between the original five members as this, noting that he, Ken and Buz still hung out with Mike Rudberg whenever they were back in Massachusetts, and that Chris Rybicki never missed an Unearth show in the state between his departure and his death. Basically, the only thing that kept Chris and Mike from continuing were touring issues - Rybicki's ban from Canada necessitated his departure so the others could enter on tours, while Rudberg basically just burned out after a couple years on the road and went back home to recover.
  • Vocal Evolution: Trevor's range gradually became more constrained across the course of their first five albums; by Darkness In The Light his upper-range scream wasn't much higher-pitched than his baseline, and his raspier sound in general was noticed (and criticized) by a lot of listeners. He seems to have since compensated by going for a slightly lower-pitched shout on Watchers of Rule.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Trevor and Ken on the passages with clean vocals. Trevor and John had a harsh vocals-only tag team.