September 02, 2008 - Tooth & Nail/Solid State
Newsflash: The â€œsing-scream-harmonize-repeatâ€ subgenre thatâ€™s dominated the scene in recent years is played out. Odds are that Underoath will be the first six people to tell you this, which is why theyâ€™ve made an enormous effort to put an oceanâ€™s distance between 2004â€™s overtly poppy (and semi-generic) breakthrough album Theyâ€™re Only Chasing Safety and the music they are making today. If one listen to 2006â€™s jarring Define The Great Line didnâ€™t prove this spiritualized sextet werenâ€™t hellbent on progressing, Lost In The Sound Of Separation will surely prove to the world-at least those who listen to their gospel-that Underoath are one of the most powerful, passionate and creative bands in heavy music today.
Separation feels like a sequel to Line on a number of levels. First, the same production teamâ€”Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying) and Matt Goldman (As Cities Burn, the Chariot)â€”co-produced the record with the band. Secondly, both discs are 11 tracks and only a handful of minutes apart from each other in length (Separationâ€™s 41-and-a-half minutes to Lineâ€™s nearly 46). Separation legitimately feels like the band listened to Line, made note of the very few places they could trim some fat, and then decided to one-up themselves across the board.
The most important development on Separation is that Underoath are now officially vocalist Spencer Chamberlainâ€™s band, with drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespieâ€™s clean singing being used in a limited capacity strictly to accentuate passages (â€œThe Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmedâ€). As with Line, Chamberlainâ€™s lyrics are brutally honest and at times uncomfortable: â€œOh, God, itâ€™s racing through my veins... Iâ€™m so scared that Iâ€™ve started to slip,â€ he bellows about his drug use in â€œBreathing In A New Mentalityâ€; â€œComing Down Is Calming Downâ€ finds him using the microphone as a psychologistâ€™s couch: â€œThere are demons inside my head/I always let them win/I have to learn to suffocate them.â€ Musically, the band add a few new tricks to their already-impressive arsenal: The fast-paced first single â€œDesperate Times, Desperate Measures,â€ loaded with hyperactive drumming and a soaring chorus sounds like the best Saosin song never written; coincidentally, Chamberlainâ€™s clean vocals on the songâ€™s postscript, â€œToo Bright To See Too Loud To Hear,â€ are strongly reminiscent of Cove Reber. Howling guitars from Tim McTague and James Smith (â€œAnyone Can Dig A Hole But It Takes A Real Man To Call it Homeâ€) and scattered electronics from Chris Dudley (â€œDesolate Earth :: The End Is Hereâ€) cue up memories of Thriceâ€™s ambitious Alchemy Index project; and the ominous group chanting in â€œEmergency Broadcast :: End Is Nearâ€ will satiate mewithoutYou fans. Lost In The Sound Of Separation is truly 2008â€™s first perfect record, which is made all the more fascinating when itâ€™s realized that it was created and inspired out of the mistakes, shortcomings and misgivings of its members from over the past two years. Once again, Underoath have elevated themselves to a level of their own.
Norma Jeanâ€™s The Anti Mother
Thriceâ€™s The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water
Gojiraâ€™s From Mars To Sirius