Tonight Alive
Underworld


4.0
excellent

Review

by Shamus248 USER (68 Reviews)
January 15th, 2018 | 45 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tonight Alive uses the vantage point provided by where they've been to forge ahead with one of their best records to date.

I've heard it said it's both a pleasure and a moral duty to speak one's mind. I've certainly taken that to heart. I love to write. It's enjoyable and often therapeutic, especially for someone like myself, who grew up with few friends to articulate whatever went on in my mind. Occasionally, I like to revisit some of the first reviews I ever published on this site and yes, they are quite flawed. Among them is a review I wrote for Tonight Alive's 2013 album, The Other Side. I actually wrote and published that review the morning after my high school graduation. I thought the album's summery, youthful energy was a fitting way to ring in the next chapter of my life. Since then, life has become a balancing act, as I contend with the gravity of the world in front of me, while still enjoying my youth while I can. It's exciting to see, especially following the vacuous mess that was Limitless, that Tonight Alive has accomplished a similar feat with the release of their new album, Underworld.

Now, Limitless isn't the worst album ever by any stretch. That record did yield some solid cuts, including the infectious single "How Does it Feel." But elsewhere throughout that record, the band's talents were poorly and criminally underutilized, particularly in the case of frontwoman Jenna McDougall and her godly voice. Thankfully, the choppy synth washes that polluted that record are, for the most part, dead and gone. Traces and appendages coming off of that album may still find themselves scattered across the band's thirteen-track debut on Hopeless Records, but the group is largely back to doing what they do best. The instrumentals rip through several tracks on Underworld with ease and Jenna McDougall clenches the microphone to put forth yet another incredible vocal performance.

"Book of Love" opens the record by opting for airy synths and basslines to dominate Underworld's opening passages. This track plays like a Limitless outtake, and although Jenna McDougall tries to make it work, her talents are drowned by auto-tune and overly glossy production for the majority of the track. "Temple" is the perfect recourse, however. The instrumentals come back hitting hard with much more force and Jenna takes advantage with strong vocals. The tepid energy of "Disappear" is backed up by guest vocals from PVRIS' Lynn Gunn and it creates a perfect midpoint between where Tonight Alive has been and where they're going.

"The Other" sees strong vocals from Jenna and the instrumentals aren't terrible. It would be nice, however, to hear more audible guitar work from Whakaio Taahi, who is making his final recorded appearance with the band with this album. Taahi does go out on a high note in the form of "In My Dreams" and "Crack My Heart", which is hands down, the best song this group has ever cut. The instrumentals are stronger than ever, there's even a breakdown towards the end and Jenna McDougall puts forth the vocal performance both of her career and of a lifetime. The band's signature pop punk sound makes the most triumphant of returns with "Crack My Heart" and Jenna McDougall's vocal performance makes the track Grammy worthy by my estimation.

"Just for Now" features plenty of lead guitar from Taahi and Jake Hardy, which helps to compensate for the abundance of wintery snyths that cover large swaths of this track. Jenna McDougall doesn't exactly captivate vocally during the chorus, but it's passable and she showcases great control and rhythm on the bridge of the track. "Waiting for the End" features strong drumming from Matt Best and elegant vocals from Jenna, while "Looking for Heaven" and "My Underworld" close out the album strongly, the latter featuring Corey Taylor of Slipknot.

Underworld bridges the gap between the Tonight Alive that made infectious hooks and hard hitting grooves sacrosanct on What Are You So Scared Of and The Other Side with the band that traded in its emotion-driven talents for vacuous pop rock on Limitless. Even with the departure of Whakaio Taahi, the band is still very much in upward trajectory once again. Underworld is a strong effort, using the vantage point provided by the band's past to help them plant a fork in the road ahead. "Crack My Heart" stands out alone as not only an album highlight, but the song of this band's career as well. Other hard hitters make Underworld a success by all accounts, an album that will surely keep the band's future as bright and optimistic as their music.



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user ratings (54)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
McTime50 (3.5)
we always get what we ask for, just not in the way we expect...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
January 14th 2018


2481 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm excited to give this a listen. I've enjoyed them in the past, even if the last album was something of a misstep.

Digging: CHVRCHES - Love Is Dead

SoccerRiot
January 14th 2018


5331 Comments


Sweet review. I'm excited to hear this too... the band's first few albums were killer

McTime50
January 14th 2018


368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Feels so good to see this band come back in full force. Good album and good review.

Dewinged
January 15th 2018


10556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album is good fun. Loved the duet in "Disappear". Good review man, I would had left out the first paragraph where you talk about your old reviews, but you linked it well anyway.

Digging: Jaye Jayle - No Trail and Other Unholy Paths

sempiturtle
January 15th 2018


1436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeh this shit is lit. Just For Now flows so good

Dewinged
January 15th 2018


10556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reminds me when Paramore used to be... eh... Paramore.

kaparoni
January 15th 2018


325 Comments


Absolutely a big step up from the previous album . However it is still missing some more guitars like on the albums "What you afraid of.." and "The other side" .
There are some great tracks on it though .

TundraL5Z
January 15th 2018


1529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh i hadn't realized this had come out yet, i will check it out at some point

Digging: Covet - effloresce

AngryJohnny
January 15th 2018


777 Comments


Band has never been that good tbh

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lots of love for crack my heart still probably my favorite track here!

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this may honestly be on par with the other side for me, the high points are just amazing

trackbytrackreviews
January 15th 2018


3361 Comments


“backed up by guest vocals from PVRIS' Lynn Gunn”

Okay I have to listen to this now

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

disappear is great too definitely top 5 for me

BlackMalachite
January 15th 2018


3564 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So glad this band improved

Digging: Chelsea Grin - Eternal Nightmare

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed dude this is such a refreshing listen after limitless

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

early favorites are burning on, disappear, crack my heart and just for now but most of this is really great

ZombieToyDuck
January 15th 2018


4893 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also im amazed how well that corey taylor guest vocal worked out

dfevil085
January 15th 2018


1142 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So glad they didn't stick with their Limitless sound

TundraL5Z
January 15th 2018


1529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh wow this is a jam and a half! love this

McTime50
January 15th 2018


368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Congrats on the feature man!



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