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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Changing Times

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Feb
The Changing Times
Sounds like … typical hardcore rock with minimal originality and varietyAt a Glance … in-your-face hard rock similar to Zao, Embodyment, and Blindside.

Hailing from Florida, the members of Underoath know what it's like to rock-and rock hard. The group has undergone a lineup change over the last few years, but the current conglomeration of six musicians is what's worked best while they play to local and regional crowds. The group is one of Solid State's most recent signings, but just because they're on a label doesn't mean Underoath has sold-out with their sound. They're pleased with the fact they have a company to stand behind them, but insist they've stuck to their indie-rock influences on their first-ever nationally distributed album, The Changing Times.

Although I can tell this group of young rockers is intent on making bold statements with their booming sound, I'm sorry to report that their first offering misses the mark. Since the album clocks in at under a half-hour in length and features only eight songs (five of which sound practically identical), it's hard for me to get a very high opinion of them. Also, their lyrics are very difficult to understand since the group's vocalist literally screams them indecipherably at the top of his lungs for the majority of the project. The fact that lyric sheets weren't available at press time didn't help matters either.

The Changing Times starts off with the chaos of "Letting Go of Tonight" and "A Message for Adrienne." Although it's impossible to tell exactly what that message is, there's no disputing the rollicking intensity. "Never Meant to Break" also features lyrical screams, which follow the patterns of Embodyment and Zao quite closely. However, this marks the first time on the disc where a slight diversion is made in the group's vigorous guitar slashes. The title cut has similar tendencies, but it slows down the backbeat and features occasional singing as opposed to constant shouting.

The most inventive song on the disc is the finale, which builds off hardcore themes as well as slight nu-metal tendencies. It's the disc's most accessible track, and I could actually pick out the words "You always amaze me," as well as a few other lines as the song progressed. The group somewhat effectively intertwines the piercing shouts of the main vocalist with the soft dialogue of another group member chiming in. Surprisingly, the tune actually has symphonic tendencies, incorporating a minute's worth of amplified strings. It's too bad songs such as "The Part of Me," "Angel Below," and "Short of Daybreak" had to return to the completely uncontrolled bombast and unintelligible lyrics found on the early portion of the disc.

Although this record isn't one of my favorites in recent months, I will acknowledge the fact that there's potential for the group's growth over time. The current member configuration needs a bit more time to gel, but with continued practice and touring, it's certainly possible. Underoath has occasional glimpses of intrigue, most notably during the short string section, which also provides hope that they can improve with a future recording. In the mean time, those looking for some heavy action can turn to the likes of label-mates Zao or Eso Charis, as well as Stretch Arm Strong on the slightly lighter side.