Review : Underoath - Ø (Disambiguation)
AbsolutepunkIt’s truly amazing that Underoath is still a band in the year 2010. After the great success of 2006’s Define The Great Line, the band unexpectedly dropped off the Warped Tour and disappeared, coming close to breaking up due to screamer Spencer Chamberlain’s personal issues. The band bounced back from that rough patch to release the furious Lost In The Sound of Separation. Despite everything, the band had emerged from their hardships more resilient than ever before. But they had to pump the brakes one more time. Tension and disconnect between the band (Chamberlain, guitarists Tim McTague and James Smith, bassist Grant Brandell, and keyboardist Chris Dudley) and vocalist/drummer Aaron Gillespie (the last remaining Underoath member) led to his departure from the band earlier this year. Once again faced with the prospect of disbanding, the band decided to fight through it, enlisting Daniel Davison (formerly of the Almighty Norma Jean) to replace Gillespie behind the kit. After a few jam sessions, the band grew closer, relaxed, and realized that they could attempt some things on their next record that they could never do with Gillespie (as it should be no surprise that he enjoyed the pop side of things). Many things have tried to destroy the Florida metalcore outfit, but just like Michael Myers, no matter how many times you try to kill them, they always come back stronger. And what materialized from the band’s latest struggles and triumphs may be the band’s greatest achievement.
The band’s seventh album, Ø (Disambiguation), is the first to feature none of original members from their 1999 debut Act of Depression. But that doesn’t matter, as this group gives the band a cohesiveness and looseness they’ve never had before. The eleven tracks on Ø (Disambiguation are incredibly diverse, as Underoath continues to push their musical boundaries. The first track, “In Division,” immediately gives your ears a completely new experience from the band, as Dudley’s programming bubbles beneath the rising scowl of McTague and Smith’s guitar riffs. The musical pummeling heard on the verses transitions into a fantastic alt-rock chorus, showcasing Chamberlain’s clean vocals, which brings back memories of the late Alice in Chains crooner, Layne Staley. In fact, the most significant part of this album is Chamberlain’s singing, as this album finally proves that this is his band. Without having to share or compromise his ideas, Chamberlain fully immersed himself into his songwriting, which led to results like the stunning “Paper Lung,” which is one of the best songs the sextet has ever created. It floats along like it’s lost at sea – until it is brought to its knees by an absolutely crushing breakdown that hits like a tidal wave over the course of the final minute.
In fact, it’s the heavy ambiance and atmospheric that appear on tracks like “Paper Lung,” the electronic “Driftwood,” and “Who Will Guard The Guardians?” that will catapult Underoath into that upper echelon among bands like Deftones and Thrice. The musicianship has never been tighter. The guitars groove, Dudley’s programming gives this dark album its eerie feel, and Davison’s drum work allows the band to attempt (and accomplish) styles and tempos they never could before. Ø (Disambiguation) is just the natural progression from their previous two albums. And although there is plenty of experimentation, it still remains an Underoath record at its core. Songs like “Illuminator” and “Catch Myself Catching Myself” flexes some muscular riffage from McTague and Smith, while “A Divine Eradication” and “My Deteriorating Incline” unleash some of the heaviest UØ songs yet....full text
HangoutApparently, my first impressions are right in 98% of the cases but not with Underoath's newest release. Ø (disambiguation), is the new, and 5th full length record by Christian rockers / metallers Underoath. Now, I am a huge fan of Underoath, initially getting into them when they released The Changing Of Times in 2002. Since that moment the band have grown, matured, bettering themselves with each release, progressively getting more heavy and more melodic at the same time and blossoming into an amazing band. Ø, on first impression appears to be another step in that same direction however, it is only on further investigation that the truth comes to light, highlighting that Ø is merely a wax work model of Underoath that could easily be displayed in Madame Tussauds. Let me explain.
On initially listening to Ø, what I was faced with was the Underoath we had all come to know and love, maybe a bit heavier, maybe slightly less melodic and definitely more experimental in terms of the production and glitchy pieces going on at varying points on the album. However, on track three, "Paper Lung," I suddenly felt the need to go to Google and type in "Has Aaron Gillespie left Underoath?" And sure enough, everything started to make sense and a huge, beaming light shone directly on the facade right before my eyes. Ø is not the Underoath we all know and love, it is, in fact, a mere copycat shadow of its former grandeur, specifically vocally. What do I exactly mean by that? Well, the missing member's parts are all still there, exactly as you could imagine them sounding had Ø been released with Gillespie's presence intact however, and no offense meant but, what is on display on Ø is merely a sub par copy of Gillespie's work. Kind of like a photocopy; it resembles the original but just isn't quite as good. That is, until the photocopy has its own original important text, art or doodles on it, in turn becoming the original and no longer a Xerox copy....full text
ThenewreviewConfession time. I have never been an Underoath fan. The mere thought of their music always evoked my gag reflex. I formed my opinion of the band based on people I knew who liked them, which, needless to say, wasn’t a good opinion. That all changed when I saw them perform live on the Cool Tour this past July. I was blown away at just how wrong I had been about the band and their sound. So the next day, I went back to listen to their albums and, again, I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. Not only did I not like it, but there were times when it was painful to listen to. There was an obvious difference between the Underoath I saw live, and the Underoath I heard on those albums. That difference was drummer and clean vocalist, Aaron Gillespie, who left the band in April 2010 (a few months before I saw them in concert). Since Ø (Disambiguation) is the first Aaron-less album in the band’s thirteen year existence (their fifth full length overall), I eagerly awaited it hoping it would help eliminate the huge disconnect I felt and offer more of what I was looking for from the band.
I’ll admit that I was nervous when I received the album. I read through the press materials and a quote from guitarist Tim McTague jumped out at me immediately: “We’ve never been afraid of singing, but the big poppy choruses are gone. This record has a lot more of a mature feeling. It wasn’t that we hated melody, but we wanted it to be a proper fit.” Hoping he was right, I held my breath and clicked play.
Ø (Disambiguation)‘s first track “In Division” offers up a perfect representation of everything I had hoped for—a thick, driving guitar tone, diverse vocals and an infinitely catchy hook that’s completely void of “emo”. Frankly, the song sets the bar quite high for the rest of the album. “Catch Myself Catching Myself” continues the album’s momentum and kept me feeling quite optimistic about this “new” Underoath. The song features a chorus I’m quite fond of where vocalist Spencer Chamberlain sings “I want to watch them burn it down”, mildly resembling Norma Jean’s “Falling From The Sky: Day Seven”.
The album certainly isn’t without its share of pleasant surprises. Dissonance, feedback and distortion are used frequently, but in a pleasing and balanced way that prevents it from being overkill to the listener. The band throws in a few experimental tracks with “Paper Lung”, “Driftwood” and “In Completion”. All three of these songs see the band take a moodier, more atmospheric approach than you might expect. “Paper Lung” and “In Completion” introduce a slight Deftones vibe to provide a nice change of pace from some of the album’s more heavy hitting tracks. “Driftwood” is a Radiohead-inspired song that really shows the band’s riskier side. Initially, it was one of the tracks that just didn’t work for me personally because I felt it disrupted the album’s flow. After a couple more listens though, it really started to settle in to the album nicely....full text
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