Underoath
Erase Me


4.0
excellent

Review

by beachdude USER (36 Reviews)
April 7th, 2018 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reinvention, not reunion.

Reunion albums can typically go down one of two distinct paths. After years away from releasing music, many bands pick up right where they left off before their breakups, making up for lost time by either returning to their roots, or by continuing to progress the sounds of their most recent material. This is a respectable path, and gives successful bands who may have been gone for several years or more the ability to reconnect with their old fanbase while still pushing themselves artistically. However, once in a while a major band will reunite and go down a very different path. Channeling the members’ changed musical visions and life experiences in their years apart, these bands attempt to redraw the core boundaries of what they stand for artistically and sonically. The resulting works are less reunion albums than they are “reinvention albums”.

Underoath’s Erase Me is decidedly a “reinvention album”, carrying all the potential triumphs and pitfalls that come along with that label. Eight years after seemingly closing out their long and diverse career with 2010’s Ø (Disambiguation), the most unrelentingly brutal and moody album of a discography which had turned increasingly towards those attributes, the Florida metalcore titans have returned with what can only be described as a hard pivot away from the direction they had been headed pre-breakup. Erase Me is genuinely unexpected coming at this point in Underoath’s career, because it dares to shine a light in the midst of their thematic and musical darkness, giving the band’s sound a greater dose of pop accessibility and melodic drive than they’ve had in well over a decade.

Opener “It Has to Start Somewhere” immediately strikes a balance between familiar and fresh. Driven by an excellent riff by lead guitarist Timothy McTague, the track carries a great deal of the old Underoath spark, but also establishes how Erase Me will differentiate itself from the band’s three previous albums. Producer Matt Squire immediately makes his presence known with an overall cleaner instrumental tone, and much greater emphasis on Chris Dudley’s keys and synthesizers, with sonic elements that hearken back at times to his early work with The Receiving End of Sirens more than a decade ago. Lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain also places his clean vocals at center stage, utilizing his signature screams only at certain points rather than having them dominate the track. Immediately setting up the album’s themes of internal and external conflict, addiction, and loss of faith, Spencer memorably opens the record with the passionately sung lines: “If my tongue is the blade/Then your hand is the gun/One of us ain’t going home*tonight”. The overall effect of these changes is a sound that leans much more towards post-hardcore and alternative rock than it does to metalcore. Yet the band’s sound benefits from this fresh approach, allowing their trademark energy to still dominate while also balancing a much greater emphasis on melody.

Perhaps surprisingly, much of the other ten tracks on the album push these new sounds even further to the forefront, and Erase Me undoubtedly contains many of the most pop-oriented tracks of Underoath’s entire career. “Rapture” and “Wake Me” are both bouncy rock radio-ready numbers that contain no trace of screamed vocals, and arguably are more comparable to Spencer’s post-breakup band Sleepwave than anything Underoath has recorded in the past. However, greater instrumental dynamics and well-placed vocals by returning drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie (in his first album with the band since 2008) place the tracks firmly above Sleepwave’s similar work, showcasing the band members’ well-rounded musical talents and strong songwriting chops. Despite some occasional plunges into run-of-the-mill alt rock tropes (the painfully bland hook of “Bloodlust” is a notable example), most of the album manages to strike a careful balance that feels genuine and relatable, with the lyrical content and vocal delivery elevating nearly every track.

Elsewhere, “Hold Your Breath” proves that the band still has a bite despite their newfound pop accessibility, balancing hard-hitting verses (complete with excellent screams from Spencer) with a stadium rock hook that immediately gets stuck in the listener’s head. “Sink With You” contains some of the best instrumental work on the album, with a pounding riff being balanced by Chris Dudley’s synthesizers, which are a consistent highlight throughout the album. The track builds to a crushing breakdown in its finale, one that is sure to please longtime fans and new converts alike. Standout track “No Frame” proves that a band like Underoath going softer doesn’t have to equate to complacency or boredom, as the track is one of their most experimental to date. Chris Dudley shines like never before, as his electronic beats accompany Spencer and Aaron’s restrained vocals, slowly building the song to an epic climax. This track is perhaps the best example of something the band would have been unlikely to attempt at all on previous albums, and yet succeeds wildly due to its fresh approach.

Erase Me will undoubtedly prove to be an extremely polarizing release among Underoath’s core fanbase, who had passionately embraced their shift towards greater aggression and technicality on 2006’s Define the Great Line and the two albums that followed. However, those who immediately jump to cries that this is no longer the same band would be cherry-picking Underoath’s history, and vastly understating the importance of their breakthrough album They’re Only Chasing Safety. Despite a greater emphasis on screams, that album wasn’t far removed from the dominant accessible post-hardcore of other early-to-mid-‘00s bands like Silverstein and From First to Last, and it remains by many metrics the band’s most successful record to this day. Underoath have always been distinguished from many of their metal contemporaries by their talents for both moody aggression and pop melodies, and it should not be overly surprising that after so many years apart, the band’s pop tendencies would rise up stronger than ever before. In a recent interview with Musicfeeds, Spencer stated, “I just made one rule while we made this record which was: ‘That’s not Underoath enough’ could not be said anymore.” That mantra of change and musical openness is what helps propel Erase Me to success, and makes it the rare “reinvention album” which sticks the landing.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Snake.
April 7th 2018


25285 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"is it possible to deinvent yourself?"



--atari

BlackwaterPork
April 7th 2018


4390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lol this average has suffered since the last time I saw it

bloc
April 7th 2018


70370 Comments


Listened to this album for a second time in full and honestly, it kinda grew on me

OwMySnauze
April 7th 2018


2538 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

No one wants a Sleepwave V2.0!

William21
April 7th 2018


879 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't think it's even the sound change that bothers me so much about this album. It's the production. Matt Squire should never be allowed anywhere near one of these bands again.



Still though, there's a few pretty good songs on here.

ianblxdsoe
April 7th 2018


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i honestly thought sleepwave was p fuckin good lol was a late first concert of mine a few years back, maybe i’ll dig this despite the average

Gyromania
April 7th 2018


37187 Comments


If I think everything they've done since dtgl is average would I like this?

icatchthirtythree
April 7th 2018


1151 Comments


This has some great songs and some are just ok. Doesn't come close to Define or Disambiguation though.

ConcubinaryCode
April 7th 2018


7623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I jammed sleepwave and I can see the comparisons to this but that album is so much more boring than this is.

dietmonster
April 7th 2018


22 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Awful on so many levels.

Space Jester
April 7th 2018


11053 Comments


If you think everything since DTGL is average you need new ears

TooLateToGoBack
April 8th 2018


2106 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Album doesn't deserve the artwork.



I loved this band, but fuck Spencer for turning this into Sleepwave 2.0

tcat84
April 8th 2018


1341 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the way they rolled out that first single too like they are still bringing it... There are some badass moments on this album but there are definitely some songs that make TOCS sound like a beast.



Rapture has grown on me , but Wake me is just so bad and i hate ihateit and I think I dislike how the name is written haha

Space Jester
April 8th 2018


11053 Comments


ihateit has a sick bridge but that’s the only good part of the song

Spec
April 8th 2018


39654 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

lmao

JayEnder
April 8th 2018


20150 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn Spec you hate this that much? Lol.

Get Low
April 8th 2018


14329 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"If I think everything they've done since dtgl is average would I like this?"

I agree with this sentiment, and no, you would not like this.

impoppy
April 8th 2018


2250 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Normally when you reinvent something, you make it better. They just took away everything that made them sound even slightly unique and left little to enjoy.

ZodiacalWolf
April 8th 2018


193 Comments


This album starts off quite good, but looses steam way too fucking fast.

SteakByrnes
April 8th 2018


29988 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

oof



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