Saturday, 31 May 2008

CD Review: III: In The Eyes Of Fire, by Unearth (2006)

On III:In The Eyes Of Fire, Unearth provide a relatively mediocre melodic metalcore mixture. Some tracks are excellent while others are duds. Unearth still seem to be deciding if they want to emphasize melodies or just manic mashes. Throughout, the trademark Unearth vocals are appropriately gravelly and punk inspired, and Trevor Phipps is attempting to sing beyond just screaming or growling.

Produced by veteran Terry Date and recorded in Seattle, the CD features few guitar solos, but interesting tempo changes in almost every song. The sound is generally energetic, clean, polished and tight, and on the tracks that work, the compositions are well structured, and the band seems interested in delivering simple but memorable and skillful melodies. In the absence of a clear lead guitar emphasis, Mike Justian's drums deliver a strong and prominent foundation. This does not work so well when the song is un-inspired, as on "Bled Dry".

The CD hints at some new avenues that the band may move into: Both So It Goes and Impostors Kingdom carry forward inspiration from Iron Maiden and melodic euro thrash metal.

The better songs tend to come early in the song list. Standouts are opener This Glorious Nightmare, March of the Mutes and Sanctity of Brothers. As instrumentals go Big Bear and the Hour of Chaos, which ends the CD, is certainly worth a spin. However, several songs lack focus and meandre into cul-de-sacs. The disapppointments and fillers include The Devil Has Risen, Unstoppable, and the afore-mentioned Bled Dry.

III: The Eyes Of Fire finds Unearth staring at a fork in the road. The band needs to decide which direction to head towards: forwards to more sophostication or backwards to more brute force.


Trevor Phipps - Vocals
Ken Susi - Guitar
Mike Justian - Drums
Buz McGraith - Guitar
John Maggard - Bass

Song List (ratings out of 10):

This Glorious Nightmare - 9
Giles - 7
March Of The Mutes - 9
Sanctity Of Brothers - 8
The Devil Has Risen - 6
This Time Was Mine - 7
Unstoppable - 6
So It Goes - 7
Impostors Kingdom - 6
Bled Dry - 6
Big Bear And The Hour of Chaos - 8

Average: 7.18

Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Terry Date

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Book Review: The Post-American World (2008), by Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria provides a terrific companion and follow-up to Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat (2005). Picking up on the theme of the forthcoming fully globalized world, Zakaria briskly examines the past and future economic rise of China and India, which by now is well worn territory for those paying attention, but also highlights the differences between the two emerging economies.

While it's easy to lump China and India as two similar economic breakthough stories, Zakaria does an excellent job of bringing out the nuanced differences between the economic drivers in the two countries, and also provides a sense of perspective regarding how much further they still have to go to come close to matching the economic power of the United States.

Zakaria also examines in depth the relationship between economic power and political structure in China, India, and the United States, and draws excellent parallels with the rise and decline of the British empire.

The book's strength, however, and the true value of Zakaria's contribution, lies in his examination of America's role in the post-American world. Perhaps because Zakaria himself is an immigrant, having arrived in the United States in 1982, he has the global perspective that is so often lacking in discussing America's role in a fully globalized world. Here he draws an incisive, rational and powerful picture of where and how America should focus its attention when the world achieves multi-polarity. The level of maturity that Zakaria presents in this text is a few orders of magnitude above most other political and economic observers.

This book is well written and easy to read, and an important contribution towards anticipating and understanding the near future.

Published in hardcover by W.W. Norton & Company.

259 pages plus Notes and Index.

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