Review Summary: we always get what we ask for, just not in the way we expect
Do you guys remember Limitless
" It was only two years ago, sure, but it marked such a downward shift for Tonight Alive that many dropped any excitement or love they might’ve had for new material. It’s hard to really blame them for doing so too. The 2003 ‘spacey’ pop rock thing they had going on for that album was so inconsistent and shallow, it had appeared the band had forgotten how to construct interesting and catchy music. It seems, however, that Tonight Alive also realized this and decided to correct their mistakes. The result is one hell of a return to form.
If there is one thing that is impossible to escape in Tonight Alive discussion, it is their frontwoman Jenna. Her vocals are at peak performance throughout the entirety of Underworld
. Soaring vocal melodies and saccharine high notes absolutely make this album. Jenna has managed to write chorus after chorus and sing the ever-loving *** out of them. Her voice blends perfectly with that of PVRIS frontwoman’s Lynn Gunn in “Disappear” to a truly orgasmic effect. The Corey Taylor guest spot is an admittingly weird one, but works better than it looks. His clean vocals on the final track, “My Underworld”, serve as a nice opposite to Jenna’s. All in all, the vocal work makes Underworld
worth the price of admission alone.
The instrumentation is also a nice throwback to earlier times for the band. An easy way to describe it is to take the good parts of Limitless
and combine it with The Other Side
. The result is a plethora of sweet guitar lines and a tiny atmospheric feel to everything. Honestly, it’s more of logical progression than Limitless
could’ve ever hoped to be. The drumming is competent and works for the songs on display here, but aren’t terribly interesting either way. On the other hand, guitars are extremely varied throughout the album. “Temple” kicks off with a pretty catchy riff that serves as the foundation for the entire track. “Burning On” uses the guitars to a much more mellow and melodic effect, creating quite the slow jam. The synths are also back, but not in full force. They intertwine with the guitar lines in such a way that elevates the songs to a much more interesting level. It works here much more than their previous effort.
The lyrics on display here mark sort of a lower point for the album. Nothing here is particularly deep or interesting per se, working more as vessel for Jenna to deliver melodies. Another issue here is that the songs begin to blend together and feel ‘samey’ by the second half of the album. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with a pop rock/pop punk group here. Depth and variety are just not strong points that can be found on albums like this. What can be taken away is a fun time with the amount of huge choruses and varied melodies that present themselves on this album. Underworld
marks a return to form for Tonight Alive for sure, and hopefully regains some of the lost fans from the aftermath of Limitless
. All that’s left is to see if they continue and expand in this direction, or again go somewhere a bit more….limited.