Underoath - Lost in the Sound of Separation
Record Label: Tooth & Nail / Solid State
Release Date: September 2, 2008
Two years ago, Underoath told us that the pop/screamo scene wasn't for them. They wanted to make something heavy, but melodic and not really care about genre labels or chart-topping. And as a byproduct, Define The Great Line was released to critical acclaim (and not to mention, a spot at number 2 on the Billboard charts). So with all the success of Define, I thought when they would go into the studio to make what would become their 4th record for Tooth and Nail/Solid State, they might just pump out DTGL2. And as I read and researched interviews about the new record, guitarist Tim Mctague even said in an issue of Alternative Press that the new album would be 'stylistically similar', so my suspicions were being confirmed. Then, September 2nd, 2008, happened. I was horribly wrong.
The record starts with the most crushing song Underoath has ever written. It makes their last opener, "In Regards to Myself", look pitiful. The false start drums and bass combo that lead into the full onslaught of "Breathing in a New Mentality" is unlike anything Underoath has ever done. And for all you dancers out there, this song also includes one of the heaviest breakdowns of the year. So instantly, I was impressed.
The record moves on with "Anyone Can Dig a Hole but it Takes a Man to Call it Home", which is a technical number that includes Aaron Gillespie's first appearance on the record. This moves into a mid-paced track, "A Fault Line, A Fault of Mine", which opens with singing and continues in that direction, having the most singing out of any of the previous songs. But in the case of "A Fault Line...", that doesn't disappoint, with it being one of the most driving songs on the record.
The next track is a departure from anything Underoath as done with the very Nine Inch Nails-influenced "Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near". The slowest of the the songs thus far, it eventually breaks down at the end with some very dark lyrics ("We are the virus/We are the cancer/Tell me it's not to late"). And that gives way to the unexpectedness of "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed". "Survivor" is the heaviest song since "Breathing". It grabs ahold of you and never lets go. Even with its heavyness, Gillespie still finds a place to fit in some crooning. The gang vocals and build-up-but-never-breaking-down ending transitions into a couple of less exciting tracks.
The next three tracks are where the record dives down for a little bit. "We Are The Involuntary" is a very Botch-type of song where Underoath for the first time says the album name in a song. Next, "The Created Void" starts out with singing that leads into a mid-paced track that features the catchiest singing on the record by far. The last out of the three is "Coming Down is Calming Down." While being arguably the darkest song lyrically ("There are demons inside my head/I always let them win/I have to learn to suffocate them"), the song becomes lost in the sound of over-used botch riffs.
Luckily, after those songs the record picks back up again for the ending. The single, "Desperate Times, Desperate Measures", is as catchy as it is brutal. It is everything you want and expect from Underoath, except turned up to 11. For that reason, it makes for one of the best songs on the record. The next song threw me off uzpon first listen because of the lack of screaming. "Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear" is a song about being desperate for God to use someone though they are far away from His will. It is interesting for a few reasons. First, Spencer Chamberlain sings (who knew?) and isn't half bad. Second, the lack of screaming brings a whole new dynamic they haven't explored much, but with how good it is, they might want to down the road. Third, they used the word "vagabonds" in a song and pull it off. Who else could do that? The ending finds Underoath having a very passionate gang vocal session of "Good God, can you still get us home?".
The album ends on a very NIN-type song that is mostly instrumental, but out of no where Spencer belts out lines about how he found hope. This seems to be a very appropriate ending.
Overall, I was impressed with Separation. I came into this record expecting the worst. And those expectations were, for the most part, unfounded. The desperate nature of this album is really what gives it what it needs to be a great record. This is the best record Underoath has ever released.