Lost In The Sound Of Separation

Newsflash: The “sing-scream-harmonize-repeat†subgenre that’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 they’ve made an enormous effort to put an ocean’s distance between 2004’s overtly poppy (and semi-generic) breakthrough album They’re Only Chasing Safety and the music they are making today. If one listen to 2006’s jarring Define The Great Line didn’t prove this spiritualized sextet weren’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 team—Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying) and Matt Goldman (As Cities Burn, the Chariot)—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 (Separation’s 41-and-a-half minutes to Line’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 Chamberlain’s band, with drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie’s clean singing being used in a limited capacity strictly to accentuate passages (“The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmedâ€). As with Line, Chamberlain’s lyrics are brutally honest and at times uncomfortable: “Oh, God, it’s racing through my veins… I’m so scared that I’ve started to slip,†he bellows about his drug use in “Breathing In A New Mentalityâ€; “Coming Down Is Calming Down†finds him using the microphone as a psychologist’s couch: “There are demons inside my head/I always let them win/I have to learn to suffocate them.†Musically, the band add a few new tricks to their already-impressive arsenal: The fast-paced first single “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures,†loaded with hyperactive drumming and a soaring chorus sounds like the best Saosin song never written; coincidentally, Chamberlain’s clean vocals on the song’s postscript, “Too Bright To See Too Loud To Hear,†are strongly reminiscent of Cove Reber. Howling guitars from Tim McTague and James Smith (“Anyone Can Dig A Hole But It Takes A Real Man To Call it Homeâ€) and scattered electronics from Chris Dudley (“Desolate Earth :: The End Is Hereâ€) cue up memories of Thrice’s ambitious Alchemy Index project; and the ominous group chanting in “Emergency Broadcast :: End Is Near†will satiate mewithoutYou fans. Lost In The Sound Of Separation is truly 2008’s first perfect record, which is made all the more fascinating when it’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 Jean’s The Anti Mother
Thrice’s The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water
Gojira’s From Mars To Sirius

Tooth & Nail/Solid State http://www.toothandnail.com