The Set List
By Brian Washburn
If a band has the chance to be the biggest band in the country (debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard Charts and selling out shows all over the nation), but decides to revert their sound back to their old, heavier, more “metal” tone, then wouldn’t you call them crazy?
Well, not many people have dubbed Florida six-piece screamo/metal gods Underoath out of their minds. In fact, critics and listeners alike gave the band’s last album, “Define The Great Line,” great reception, even with the not so radio-friendly sound. And while the album was being acclaimed all over the nation, after it had debuted at No. 2, and the band looked to embark on their more progressive summer and tours to date, inter-turmoil struck, which almost left the band, and their loyal followers, distraught and dismantled.
However, the band regrouped, hit the studio and have released what might be their best work to date.
Underoath — vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, vocalist/drummer Aaron Gillespie, guitarists Tim McTague and James Smith, bassist Grant Brandell and keyboardist Chris Dudley — have turned up their amps, deepened the screams and put more blast in their sound than anyone could have thought was possible into their new effort, “Lost in the Sound of Separation.”
While ’06s “Great Line” proved groundbreaking, it also had the “one track disease” at times — you know, where the songs played back to back sound almost the exact same. “Lost” has not been contaminated with this disease, it thrives off its diversity.
The album’s first track, “Breathing In a New Mentality,” does just that for the record and the band, with its raw, rough intro, then blasting into the melodic metal sound that made the band possibly the biggest hardcore band in the nation.
But “Lost” does not contain one solid sound throughout. This is not your scene kids’ Underoath, it’s definitely one for the progressive music fan. Look no further than “Emergency Broadcast: The End is Near” to find the most diverse and bizarre song on the album. However, it’s not bad. It gives the album a much needed creative break from its intense, ground-breaking head-banging sound.
The highpoint of this record is, in fact, what was the low-point of the last few records — Chamberlain’s vocals. Not only have his vocals found their own path, but his lyrics have also stepped up their game. But why shouldn’t they? Chamberlain and his bandmates have been through a career’s worth of drama in the past two years. However, Gillespie’s vocals, while on this CD might seem few and far between, are still the stellar yelp the charismatic redhead has been known for both in Underoath and in The Almost. And don’t worry, his drums hit as hard as ever, as people have come to expect.
McTague and Smith have both improved the guitar work on “Lost” as they did on “Define the Great Line.” With more of a metal mentality, as well as a more diverse ability to work with the melody, both guitarists bring their own unique blend of guitar work to the table (“A Fault Line, A Fault of Mine”).
Alienating fans might not be Underoath’s intention, however. In fact, the band adds much more melody to their metal in “Lost” than they had in their previous effort. The album’s first single “Desperate Times Desperate Measures” shows just how melodic brutality can be. When you hear this song, you’ll want to burn down a city in a poetic way — if that is even possible).
“Lost in the Sound of Separation,” as an album, is exactly the opposite of what the title suggest. The album is concise, brutal, melodic and truthful, especially Chamberlain’s lyrics.
Underoath might not cater to the younger, pop-friendly fans or the radio crowd with this CD, but the sextet have progressed once again into a sound all of their own, original and completely mind-blowing.
FInal Thought: If you skim through rock radio these days, it’s no surprise that it all sounds the same. Who can really tell We The Kings from All Time Low or Hit the Lights? Bands should take a cue from Underoath; music is not about the money or fame (although both are extremely nice), music is about the sound you love to create and the way it makes listeners feel. If this would actually take place, maybe the national music scene wouldn’t already be six feet under and ready to close the coffin door.