April 2, 2018 Underøath – Erase Me (Album Review)
Prepared for a rebirth, Underøath return with their first studio release in eight years, Erase Me, which arrives on Friday, April 6, 2018, thanks to Fearless Records.
To very loosely categorize the beginnings of Underoath (stylized as Underøath), they started as a Christian Screamo/Metalcore outfit out of Florida in 1997. With original Lead Vocalist Dallas Taylor, the band would release three albums – their 1999 debut Act of Depression, 2000’s Cries of the Past, and 2002’s The Changing of Times. After Taylor’s departure, Spencer Chamberlain stepped in on vocals, leading the group through their next four albums – 2004’s They’re Only Chasing Safety through 2010’s Ø (Disambiguation) – and, of course, more line-up changes, including the departure of founding member, Drummer Aaron Gillespie.
Throughout the years, there has often been tension in the Underøath camp, from internal struggles to addiction, to issues stemming from their religious convictions. Always known as a proud Christian outfit, Underøath were in no way immune to the struggles that every other band face. Despite this, they soldiered on, finding themselves nominated for two Grammys (in 2007 and 2010, respectively), and performing on the likes of CMJ Fest, the first ever Taste of Chaos, Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour, as well as becoming veterans of Warped Tour.
With their videos immensely popular in the early 2000s on MTV2 and Fuse, the band would go on to tour extensively and share stages with the likes of Slipknot, Mastodon, Atreyu, A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, Taking Back Sunday, Poison the Well, Every Time I Die, Saosin, Blessthefall, and many, many more.
On April 6, 2010, Gillespie would play his last full show with the band in Milan, Italy. Three years later, Underøath would announce their official disbanding, only to reunite two years later. Now, exactly eight years to the day that Gillespie performed that very last gig, Underøath – Vocalist Chamberlain, Guitarists Tim McTague and James Smith, Bassist Grant Brandell, Drummer/Vocalist Gillespie, and Keyboardist Chris Dudley – are back and better than ever!
The sextet’s eighth studio album and first original release in eight years, Erase Me, was produced by Matt Squire (HIM, Taking Back Sunday) and marks the band’s Fearless Records’ debut. The eleven-track offering sees the group embracing their future, while turning a confessional, candid eye toward their troubled past. Embracing a sound that leans more toward Hard Rock than anything Metal, ‘Core, or otherwise, the boys are raising questioning eyebrows toward their Christian beliefs and severing ties with their Screamo categorization. Fear not, however: this is no fuddy-duddy Rock record!
Erase Me absolutely explodes into the rage-filled tirade of “It Has To Start Somewhere,” and any fears of a kinder, gentler Underøath are immediately staunched. Distortions add a crunch to the bass-licious “Rapture” before the incendiary “On My Teeth” explodes into multiple layers of suckerpunch. In turn, ominous keys introduce “Wake Me,” a search for a reason to greet each day (“It’s easier to sleep than to face it awake”). Embedded lyrically here are words that anyone who has ever suffered with depression can relate to, creating a relatable, emotional plea.
The cutting darkness of “Bloodlust” leads to the full-throttle sonics of “Sink With You,” offering up a crunch and bitter bite, creating a truly epic, explosive bout of rage against the apathetic machine. Meanwhile, the sober confessions of regretting chasing that high, “ihateit,” move flawlessly into the dueling vocals of “Hold Your Breath.”
Synths and electronic beats set an almost Fever Ray-like pitch for the backbone of the Industrial-tinged “No Frame,” serving as the delicious gateway drug that segues into “In Motion,” with its vicious growls of hopelessness. They end with the candid “I Gave Up,” where Chamberlain’s confessions sit alongside initially more delicate sonics – piano, guitars, and a growing beat – weaving an emotionally threadbare plea from a man struggling with his addictions. As the situation spirals, so does the accompanying musical backbone, soaring into a whirling sandstorm of frustration.
Erase Me sees Underøath questioning their faith, recovering from addiction, and laying it all on the line. From start to finish, this sextet author an album that is infectious and enjoyable, while remaining hard-hitting and lyrically candid. You can absolutely say that the time away has been good to Underøath! Success never comes easy, and the fact that these guys have been able to soldier onward to face a new day is exemplary in a musical climate suffering from severe ADHD. LL Cool J says you can call it a comeback, a damn good one at that! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Underøath’s Erase Me 5 of 5 stars.