Review Summary: Christian Rock Hard.
It isn’t often that a band I despise is able to turn around and provide me with an album I not only enjoy but consider to be an exceptional display of a genre. Underoath managed to do this twice, first with Define The Great Line and most recently Lost in The Sound of Separation. Whilst Define The Great Line laid down the groundwork for Underoath’s current sound Lost in The Sound of Separation built on that foundation and provided an impressive album.
In terms of songwriting the band has improved dramatically whether it be the greater focus on atmospherics or the Botch-like guitar work throughout the album. Vocally Spencer Chamberlain has improved greatly providing a rather impressive range with his harsh vocals as well as his barely used, yet still interesting cleans. Aaron Gillespie provides the perfect counter-point to this with his higher-pitched cleans that provide a break from Chamberlain’s screaming.
Instrumentally the band is continuing their journey begun on Define, improving their technicality once again. The guitar parts are very well done providing the right amount of heaviness needed for the album. Aaron’s drumming has also continued to improve, whilst he isn’t the most technical player he is more than capable and provides a somewhat driving performance throughout the album. The bass has also made improvements, the inclusion of start-stop guitar patterns allows the consistency of Grant Brandell to shine more than it had previously, similarly Chris Dudley is able to focus much more on creating a dissonant atmosphere, often using a static-like effect to assist in the build up of tracks.
So why then is this album not receiving a perfect score? Well, despite the band’s vast improvements there are a few areas in which it seems they still need development. Notably “Emergency Broadcast :: The End is Near” is somewhat lacking, it’s a somewhat slower track that builds to a climax but by the time it gets there it just becomes a little too taxing on the listener. In fact mid-tempo songs seem to be something the band has trouble working with. The three tracks following album stand out “The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” suffer from the same problem, the instruments are moving at a mid-tempo pace but the vocals seem to have been designed for faster tracks.
Thankfully the second last track on the album redeems these faults providing an excellently executed mid-tempo ballad-esque performance that may come off slightly preachy but succeeds nonetheless. Unfortunately with this impressive showing of a mid-tempo song one has to wonder why this didn’t work with the other tracks. Which leads me to the next point of criticism, Spencer’s vocals. For all the improvement he’s made he still suffers from the ill-fortune of having a somewhat repetitive voice, on faster tracks and/or tracks featuring Aaron’s vocals this isn’t as noticeable but during particularly long doses of Spencer’s vocals they can become tiring.
That being said the band still manage to showcase some superb skill. The opening track provides a crippling rage filled performance that shows the listener what they’re in for. “A Fault Line, A Fault Of Mine” gives the listener a trip down memory lane showing a more melodic and catchy Underoath akin to They’re Only Chasing Safety (except it isn’t awfully generic). The album’s standout tracks “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures” and “The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed” show a band who are able to create heavy music that avoids the trap of “heaviness, for the sake of heaviness”.
Overall the album is rather impressive and were it not for the somewhat lacking mid-tempo tracks and the slight repetitiveness of Spencer’s vocals it would be near-perfect. Unfortunately those factors do bring the album down, that being said the album is still an exciting and enjoyable piece of music and perhaps the next album will be even more impressive, until then…
Anyone Can Dig A Hole But It Takes A Man To Call It Home
A Fault Line A Fault Of Mine
The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed
Desperate Times Desperate Measures
Too Bright To See Too Loud To Hear