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Underoath
"0 (Disambiguation)"

© Tooth & Nail

February 19 - 25, 2017

Year of Release: 2010
Rating:
  • In Division
  • Catch Myself Catching Myself
  • Paper Lung
  • Illuminator
  • Driftwood
  • A Divine Eradication
  • Who Will Guard
    The Guardians
  • Reversal
  • Vacant Mouth
  • My Deteriorating Incline
  • In Completion

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    Taken from their Wikipedia page:

    Underoath is an American Christian post-hardcore band from Tampa, Florida. Underoath's members are Christian and have stated that they are a Christian band. However, as vocalist Spencer Chamberlain explains, "[We are Christian but] in a different way. We're not like your average Christian band." He explains that Christianity is the "backbone of our lives, especially in the way that we handle certain things, but it's not so much the backbone of our lyrics. It's not like every song is a lesson from the Bible or something. It's just normal life struggles." Keyboardist Christopher Dudley stated that a majority of Underoath's audience is not Christian, nor are the bands with whom they would often tour. Though the band has been noted for "setting precedent in both Christian rock and beyond", only a portion of their albums are sold in the Christian marketplace. Chamberlain said, "I look at us as just another band in the secular market like with all these other hardcore bands and we just happen to be a Christian band that has different beliefs." However, in an interview with Alternative Press, Drummer Aaron Gillespie stated that "I'm definitely a Christian, but I don't think Underoath should be a 'Christian band'" Underoath have been labeled as a Christian metal and metalcore band, but have also been described as hardcore, post-hardcore, emo, and screamo. The band's style has changed over the years, as explained by Allmusic: "since their inception, Florida's Underoath have evolved from a run-of-the-mill Christian metalcore band into a fluid, dynamic, and energized rock group that adeptly blends emotive melody, charged punk rock rhythms, and a chunky, engaging bottom end." Jesus Freak Hideout also took notice of this, mentioning in a review that "Underoath's sound has evolved a lot - from metal to emocore to straight-up hardcore."

    In plain English, Underoath is one of those bands that all you hear is screaming vocals and hardcore metal music. Underoath has had their share of #1 albums on Billboard's Christian Album Chart. Their music would never be heard on FM Rock Radio, nor your basic Christian Rock stations. Why? Because, quite frankly, the music is way too loud for many standards, and the vocals are virtually impossible to decipher. And surpirisingly, they have been Grammy nominated twice... In 2007, and 2010. [2007] : "Writing on the Walls" was chosen as the lead single from their album Define The Great Line (an album that reached #1 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart). The song was nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award, for Best Short Form Music Video. [2010] : Their deluxe version of Lost In The Sound Of Separation was nominted for Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.

    But having said that, their music appeals to the Christian genre. As from Wikipedia, the band is described as hardcore, post-hardcore, etc., and should not be considered as a "Christian band." It's the music and screaming vocals that proves this.

    By 2010, their original members were replaced. 0 (Disambiguation) was the band's seventh studio album. Their final original member to leave the band was drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie. Their newest member was Gillespie's replacement, Daniel Davison. He was formerly of another hardcore Christian Rock band, Norma Jean. 0 (Disambiguation) was Davison's only appearance, and would also be their band's final album, before a two-year breakup from 2013 to 2015. Gillespie formed another Christian Rock band, The Almost. 0 (Disambiguation) would be the band's third #1 album. The other two were Define The Great Line (2006), and Lost In The Sound Of Separation (2008). The album produced two singles: "In Division," and "Paper Lung."

    My question is, which radio stations really focuses on this hardcore Christian music? Underoath is not Metallica. Metallica does get radio exposure on many FM stations. But as a Christian "heavy hardcore" band, my guess of hearing Underoath's music would be on underground radio (preferably underground FM, for those out there), or most likely, in today's age, Internet Radio Stations.

    And speaking of the band Norma Jean, their Redeemer album is reviewed here. Also, you can view our review of The Almost album Southern Weather here.

    Just as the review for Norma Jean's Redeemer states, it's Noise. The same can be said for Underoath. For some, this pretty much sums it up. But... Let's look in how the Christian part of this, comes into play...

    Just as the Norma Jean review, Underoath's 0 (Disambiguation) lyrics can be found here: here. (Which, as a coincidence, both the lyrics from Norma Jean's Redeemer and Underoath's 0 (Disambiguation) are from the same website, DarkLyrics.com.)

    In looking at the lyrics, I have found that simply every song if of a dark nature. So how is this really of Christian faith? I say it's definitely not. Although in some Christian lyrics, there are dark situations, but in the end, the finding of the Lord will save the darkness, turmoil and all bad things that are currently found in the lyrics from its authors.

    And to basically summarize Underoath's "Christian music" -- this review I found defines it. In summary on this review, it's not about the lyrics. It's not about Christian lyrics. It's about the music, and how different and unique it is. Again, it's Hardcore Metal.

    As I look back to update my past reviews, there were links originally posted from other websites. These links were of interesting pages of information and other reviews. Unfortunately, some of these links were removed. But in case this happens with the link I just posted above for this review, here it is:

    When you hear “Grammy-nominated”, “Billboard Top 10”, and “Gold-certified”, your mind probably doesn’t leap to heavy music, but all three of these accolades have been imparted on the post-hardcore band Underoath in recent years. It doesn’t take much exposure to the sextet to understand why, though: Arguably, punk rock, metal, and experimental music have never been married with such earth-quaking dexterity, only to, ironically, have the finished product feel so accessible. But, there’s more to the story than that, of course. Underoath, though not proselytizing like the street preachers of old, hold certain spiritual beliefs that inseparably add an element of otherworldiness to their music. When combined with a sound already so punishing, the affect can simulate catharsis, or purging, a washing away not so much of “sin” — there are no alter calls here — but one’s conception of Christian art, generally. Strip away Underoath’s beliefs and you’re still left with some of the most sophisticated, mind-bending, labored-over heavy music that’s ever been written. Keep them intact, and even unabashed atheists can’t help but be curious about the band’s theological inspiration. How else could you explain their global, “Gold-certified” reach?

    In the context of their seventh album, 0 (Disambiguation), the topic of purging is fitting. While on the road in Italy this past spring, Aaron Gillespie, the band’s only remaining original member, announced that he’d be relinquishing his vocal and drumming duties at the close of the tour to “focus on other music and ministry endeavors.” (Gillespie fronts pop rock band The Almost and has recently completed a worship album). For anyone following Underoath, this was unmistakeably significant. The fact that Gillespie was an original member mattered, to be sure, but less so than that his boy-ish, impassioned vocals were a huge part of Underoath’s sound, which since 2002’s Changing of the Times, made room for guttural screaming and singing in near-equal measure. Moreover, though the remaining five would certainly have access to plenty of percussive talent in his wake, Gillespie’s drumming style, frenetic and asymmetrical, isn’t exactly the type of thing you come across everyday. Naturally, then, his departure raised lots of questions as to the direction Underoath would take, if they would continue at all.

    It didn’t take long for Underoath to set their fan’s minds at ease, however. Just over a month after Gillespie left, the band announced that former Norma Jean drummer and longtime friend Daniel Davison would be his replacement, a natural choice on one hand and a nod to the future on the other. The band reportedly felt somewhat confined by their creative accord with Gillespie while writing their last couple of records, wanting to experiment more but never really being able to perpetuate those ideas to their fullest extent. With Gillespie gone, and Davison’s distinct perspective and plenty capable talent in the mix, the band were finally given that chance. And as the record shows, to suggest that they took advantage of it would be an understatement: 0 (Disambiguation) is a heavy music triumph.

    The record, in many ways, feels like the culmination of a stylistic shift that began on 2006’s Define the Great Line. Its predecessor, They’re Only Chasing Safety, was Underoath’s breakout record, to be sure, but it was coincidentally also their, well, safest. Catchy Jimmy Eat World-esque riffs were tweaked over propulsive post-punk rhythms, as Gillespie’s sung voice became more of a focus than ever before. That trend continued with Define, but the music took a darker, more angular and combustive turn, as the bellow of new singer Spencer Chamberlain began to play more of a prominent role. Likewise, on 2008’s Lost in the Sound of Separation, Underoath drove into ever-more murky depths, refining a style that was by this point noticeably their own, unrelenting and defiant of classification. That framework is largely in tact on the new effort, except it’s decidedly richer and more vibrant, showcasing each member’s strengths in ways not realized before in Underoath’s decade-old career.

    The opener, “In Division”, reveals the band’s resolve from the start, as the often understated programming talents of keyboardist Chris Dudley are situated right up front, a tactic that foreshadows a much greater emphasis on his work throughout the record. The ping-ponging industrialism of the opening sample also conveys a sense of the world Underoath are about to create, one that’s submerged and completely devoid of light, except for traces that skate the surface hundreds of feet above where they reside. Indeed, it’s clear that producers Matt Goldman and Jeremy Griffith worked with the band to assemble a document littered with ghostly nuance, echoing voices and other eerie flourishes that make the collection almost as visual as it is audible, retiring the idea once and for all that hardcore is an inherently limited genre. Look no further than “Reversal”, with its odd, hovering noise, persistent feedback, circular, plodding rhythm and distant chants, to witness that premise completely fall apart.

    If you’re worried at this point that Underoath made some sort of high-brow art record, don’t be. Twenty seconds into “In Division”, we’re met with the band’s trademark obtuse brutality, as guitars wind around Davison’s punishing use of the toms before the song hits its dense, Deftones-ian chorus. Similarly, “Catch Myself Catching Myself”, “Illuminator”, “A Divine Eradication”, and “My Deteriorating Incline” are, in their own ways, some of the heaviest songs Underoath have ever written, though also some of the most textured. Bass riffs are regularly cloaked in fuzz, drum hits sporadically muffled or obscured and vocals multi-tracked and manipulated to accentuate the overarching narrative of being buried and maligned, inferring a refreshing degree of intentionality in a genre that’s historically much too uniform.

    Elsewhere, the band manage to mete out similar levels of intensity without so much bombast. “Paper Lung” is dissonant and space-y while “Driftwood” is a pitter-pattering, lush nod to minimalist IDM. It’s here that we get the best glimpse of Chamberlain the singer and, frankly, it sounds as if he’s had the job all along. The change from Gillespie is different, to be sure, but the effect is far from jarring. Rather, the sound of singing atop Underoath’s big, complex sound finally feels natural. Gillespie’s voice, while undoubtedly great, is, in my opinion, better suited for the music he’s making now. (So, more records are made and everyone wins).

    The proceedings are more volatile on “Who Will Guard the Guardians” and “Vacant Mouth”, as intelligent riffs, electronic passages and ferocious rhythmic flourishes dance around each other in ways that could easily be disorientating if it weren’t for the band’s well-versed penchant for organization. For its part, “In Completion” closes the record as a hybrid of the various styles that comprise it, at once atmospheric and unremittingly massive as Chamberlain clamors, “keep swimming, keep swimming” before the final wash of distortion is pulled back out into the dark abyss, Underoath having been made anew once more.

    As I stated in my review of Norma Jean's Redeemer:

    Metalcore music is not for everyone. Norma Jean's Redeemer is not for all ears. Yet they have their own Christian messages through their music. As reading the lyrics from the link in this review, yes, the band's messages are quite different to those of other Christian music performers. Even the album cover of Redeemer is disturbing: A bird biting the hand of a scared and crying young girl. (Looking through the album's booklet, there is another disturbing picture, of a bird biting the hand of scared and crying young boy.) Even the song titles from each song on this album is a little misleading to other obvious Christian song titles. Norma Jean's music does appeal to many, as it sold over 21,000 copies in its first week. This album reached #1 on the Christian Albums Chart, as did a previous album of theirs, O God The Aftermath. And there were other metalcore Christian bands that would reach #1 on the Christian Albums Chart. Again, metalcore is one genre of music that is hard to listen to. Having a lyric sheet, or looking up the lyrics online is best while listening to Norma Jean's Redeemer, especially for those not familiar, or not used to listening to this loud and brash kind of music. Interpreting their own Christian messages while reading their lyrics, can easily be seen how the band looks at Christianity, in their own musical ways. My ears' sensitivity has given this album a low review, but as with many Christian music artists, Norma Jean's lyrics interprets their strong thoughts on the Christian faith.

    And as previously mentioned, this kind of music is "noise." Norma Jean's website is NormaJeanNoise.com.

    Christian's Metalcore bands are very different to your normal and standard Christian artists/bands. The Redeemer review stated "disturbing" pictures. Yet Norma Jean's lyrics "Christian messages" in their lyrics of their own. Then there is Underoath. The lyrics on 0 (Disambiguation) are dark, and how does this reflect on "finding God" and other "positive" Christian meanings? It just makes you wonder how these two bands did reach #1 on the Christian album charts. Listening to this kind of music is quite disturbing. And then, there are just as many hardcore Rock bands out there, with even darker lyrics, and in general, lyrics you can't really interpret, unless you find a lyrics sheet, just to find out what these bands are really singing about.

    "Christian bands" like Norma Jean and Underoath will not appeal to many. It will only appeal to those who truly "enjoy" this particular genre, called Metalcore music -- whether it be categorized as "Rock Music" or "Christian Music" or "whatever." Don't get me wrong, there are some Metalcore bands and artists that I enjoy. It's just when you mix Christian and Metalcore music together, the music may not be exactly that of what we consider "Normal Christian Music." If the "positive" Christian lyrics are there, it makes it for the better. Underoath's lyrics here are of dark nature. Is this "Normal Christian Music" ? I say no.




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