“It just feels good to scream at the top of my lungs,” admits UNITYTX vocalist Jay Webster. “And not even at anyone. Sometimes you just need to scream.” Truer words have rarely been spoken in the context of recent history, and on their debut Pure Noise LP, FERALITY, UNITYTX confront the last few years head-on with a blistering cocktail of car crash energy, sludgy horror-show macabre, industrial metal sheen and sinister subliminality.
Produced by Andrew Wade (A Day To Remember, Wage War), FERALITY follows the band’s 2019’s Madboy, their first EP for Pure Noise that elevated the Dallas-based quartet (Webster, guitarist Ricky Cova, bassist Kendrick Nicholson and drummer Jonathan Flores) onto tours with the likes of Silverstein, The Amity Affliction and Poppy and shone a spotlight on the genre-bending sonic blend UNITYTX have been building in the underground since 2014.
“We put out Madboy and then COVID hit. It was like we were having to start back at square one,” Webster admits. “That anxiety, the feeling like it’s not good enough no matter how hard you’re working – it really took a toll on me. It feels like you’re an animal in a cage, dealing with repetition and anger until you hit your breaking point.”
From its evocative cover art through its 11 tracks, FERALITY is a case study in inner turmoil, awash in what Webster, one of the most versatile new vocalists in heavy music, describes as a “Jekyll and Hyde split personality.” “I’ve been trying to not be at war with the world as much,” he says. “You’re always going to have hardships with people in life, but a lot of the album is a real look in the mirror, me at war with myself. I feel like this is a different beast.”
There’s not much self grace given, from the opening notes of “ROTTING AWAY (GORE),” bathed in seven-string doom, to the haunting “STING” and album standout “LOST IN DAYZ,” which paints an all-too-familiar cycle of anxiety-induced anger and lost innocence that bubbles to the album’s most harrowing chorus (“We were all just kids / So what the fuck I do / Cuz every day is like I want to blow my brains out”).
But when UNITYTX cut these more caustic moments, whether with the swinging verve of “ROC SH!T,” leading with full-chested machismo and swagger, or their some of their most brilliantly melodic material to date (“BURNOUT,” “DIAMOND DIEZ” and the Meteora-inspired “PICTURE THIS”) FERALITY really begins to take shape, marrying the brutality of turn-of-the-century hard rock, swagger of hardcore hip-hop, and shapeshifting spirit of new-age metalcore, careening through the last 25 years of heavy music while pushing the genre forward in captivating new ways.
“I started doing this because I wanted to play music with my friends, then eventually I realized it had potential because I could write and say anything I wanted,” Webster explains. “I want our music to be hip-hop-adjacent but also into old-school nü-metal and hardcore and metalcore – all of it. People always say, ‘Oh, you sound like this band or that band.’ Bro, I’m just a songwriter.”