Lost in the Sound of Separation
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Sep
- Breathing in a New Mentality
- Anyone Can Dig a Hole, but It Take a Real Man to Call It Home
- A Fault Line a Fault of Mine
- Emergency Broadcast :: The End Is Near
- The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed
- We Are the Involuntary
- The Created Void
- Coming Down Is Calming Down
- Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
- Too Bright to See, Too Loud to Hear
- Desolate Earth :: The End Is Here
With their release of Define the Great Line in 2006, Underoath became the biggest band out of Tooth & Nail Records since P.O.D., thanks to strong album sales, widespread critical acclaim, and a surging fan base overflowing from the Christian market into the mainstream. Yet shortly after, to everyone's surprise, the band pulled out from the Vans Warped Tour. Some fans grew increasingly uncertain of Underoath's future the following year when drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie released his side project as The Almost.
Breathe easy, Underoath isn't finished yet. They took time off to solidify their friendships within the band, strained by the rigors of touring. They're seemingly stronger for it, growing more collaborative in their creative process. This new season is reflected through their fourth studio project,
That said, this is not a record for those who can't find the musicality in metalcore. Nor is it as melodic as it's made out to be—unless by melody you mean occasional singing by Spencer Chamberlain and Gillespie, but it's never as catchy as, say, P.O.D. or Demon Hunter. And while some parts are experimental, it's not much different or groundbreaking from past projects by Underoath and other metalcore bands.
What does elevate
The opening thrash of "Breathing in a New Mentality" revolves around the chanted scream, "I'm the desperate and you're the Savior," and when you grasp the words, it's very much a modern psalm pleading for deliverance: "Clean me up, show me how to live/Tear me down, let me start again." Carrying on with the wordy titles, "Anyone Can Dig a Hole…" expresses fear and uncertainty that faith and life are meaningless, yet concludes, "I am the one who's wrong/God forgive me!" And then "A Fault Line a Fault of Mine" plays like a confession, admitting a need for change.
Intense as those songs are, they're not as dark as what follows. "Emergency Broadcast :: The End Is Near" allows fears and pessimism to run rampant with a bleak vision of doom … but representing the world, or inner turmoil? Most likely the latter, as suggested by the similarly hellish "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed": "This is how it seems to me/I've drowned myself in self-regret/This is how I wanna be/This can't be how I wanna be." The album's pivotal point seems to come with "We Are the Involuntary" as Gillespie sings about the hope for something more: "Hands in the air and love at our sides/There's gotta be something bigger with the beating in our throats and the tremble in our grip/This can't be it … oh Lord have mercy on us all."
From there the songs turn more hopeful and melodic, as if pointing to light in the darkness. "The Created Void" expresses an understanding of separation caused by sin: "It's all in the way I say what I don't mean, and mean what I don't/I need to speak of you and what is real." Rejecting sin is a lifelong struggle, as heard in "Coming Down Is Calming Down," but we're confronted with a total breakdown of self in "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures." After that, "Too Bright to See Too Loud to Hear" offers striking contrast—almost floating and tranquil, though still punctuated by drums, as a chorus chants, "Good God, can you still get us home?" Concluding the album is "Desolate Earth :: The End Is Here," a mostly instrumental track driven by drum machine, keyboards, and cello, as if surveying the damage of a great holocaust, but then finding something has survived: "You said there was nothing left down here/Well, I roamed around the wasteland/And I swear I found something/I found hope, I found God/I found the dreams of the believers."
The best songs on