Fans of Underoath's last album (They're Only Chasing Safety
) may be surprised to learn that Define the Great Line
is actually Underoath's fifth studio effort. Since their formation in 1998, the band have gone from being a ferocious black metal influenced metalcore band who wrote 8 minute songs to a catchy, almost mainstream poppy post-hardcore outfit. In the space between the first release and Define the Great Line
, Underoath have changed their style so enormously with each consecutive release that one has to ponder whether the band who released Cries of the Past
and They're Only Chasing Safety
should be considered as the same band. History aside, Define the Great Line
is Underoath's first effort since their major breakout into the mainstream with They're Only Chasing Safety
. Although they have a lot to prove, Define the Great Line
should prove a surprise for fans of the band's older and newer work alike.
Spencer Chamberlain - Vocals
Aaron Gillespie - Drums, Vocals
Timothy McTague - Guitar
James Smith - Guitar
Grant Brandell - Bass
Christopher Dudley - Keyboards
While it is quite common for bands to take a more mainstream direction with each album they release, it is far less common for bands to become less accessible. By now, it seems obvious that Underoath aren't interested in repeating themselves. Fans of the catchy post-hardcore of They're Only Chasing Safety
expecting more of the same will undoubtedly disappointed by Underoath's sixth release. Though Safety
is probably the most similar Underoath album to Define the Great Line
, things have certainly changed. Musically, Define the Great Line
all but abandon the catchy pop choruses that made them so many fans on their last record. Instead, they have made a heavier, more eclectic and more challenging album with Define the Great Line
. Vicious drumming, heavy and chugging guitar riffs, ambient electronics and post-metal melodies dominate what has been described by the band members as the best album they will ever be involved with.
Underoath have changed enormously since They're Only Chasing Safety
and thankfully, these changes are all for the better. Possibly the best illustration of the good changes the band have undergone is that of the vocals. Chamberlain's voice has improved dramatically since the last record. He now includes vicious screaming, growling, yelling, shouting, shrieking and much improved singing while very rarely sounding whiney or annoying. Aaron Gillespie's vocals also make welcome appearances in vocal duels. These are scattered through the album quite regularly, but are never overdone. Musically, the band have majorly improved as well. Or perhaps, considering the great skill showcased on the group's early releases, they have decided to make more use of their musicianship. Whatever the case, Define the Great Line
makes superb use of technical riffing, constant tempo changes and very impressive drumming thoughout.
Define the Great Line
opens with "In Regards to Myself", one of the album's heaviest songs. Like their labelmates Norma Jean, Underoath throw a lot of dissonant riffs into their very heavy sound on this record and this dissonance is well exemplified on "In Regards to Myself". At its core, Define the Great Line
is definitely a modern metalcore album in the vein of bands like Norma Jean and Botch. However, to dismiss it as simply another metalcore album would be an injustice. Other influences creep in all throughout, such as the slow, sludgy post-metal with soaring guitar leads, extremely similar to Cult of Luna or Isis that appears in quite a few of the album's tracks, or the ambient electronica of Salmarnir that includes a recitation of part of Psalm 50 in Russian. Keyboards are used to great effect throughout, not just for ambience when it is required. The album's closer - "To Whom It May Concern" - makes use of a great deal of tempo changes and runs for over 7 minutes. Lyrically, Underoath still have a major focus on Christianity and personal struggles.
For fans of Underoath at their earliest, this record may still be somewhat of a disappointment. On the other hand, this record may be just what fans of the early material have been hoping for. Expectations were high and Underoath have certainly delivered. They may not have delivered what fans of their last record were hoping for, but regardless, Define the Great Line
is Underoath's strongest release to date.
Heavier and more technical sound
The enormous improvement in the vocal department
This won't be what fans of TOCS were expecting
In Regards To Myself
Returning Empty Handed
To Whom It May Concern
FINAL RATING: 4/5