Tuesday, 31 March 2009

UnderOath "Lost In The Sounds Of Seperation"

From the ferocious opening of 'Breathing In A New Mentality' to subdued closer 'Desolate Earth: The End Is Here' UnderOath have marked their place as one of the most consistently innovative and emotive heavy bands on the scene today.

Following up an album as visceral and original as 'Define The Great Line' would be a daunting assignment for any band, but UnderOath have created a record which furthers their legacy without simply being 'Define The Great Line Mach II'.

Within the course of 'Seperation' the Oath lay down another wall of Isis ambience meets Botch riff-o-rama sound, similiar to the audio textures presented in 'Define' but with more of an industrial bent (eg. the Nine Inch Nails-esque 'Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near'). The more noticeable presence of Chris Dudley's keyboards and samples are largely responsible for this vibe, with an almost constant contribution of off-beat backing ambience and occasional reverb-drenched electronics breaks.

Guitarists Tim McTague and James Smith along with bassist Grant Brandell bring a constant wave of chordal noise, dissonant riffing and occasional super-syncopated breakdowns to the table, providing an able contribution very similar to the simultaneously ambient/aggresive parts presented in 'Define'. Whilst these parts do little to highlight any of UnderOath's guitarists particular technical skills they do so to the benefit of the songwriting itself, ensuring songs aren't reduced to the technical wankery which seems to afflict a fair percentage of currently popular metal/hardcore bands (eg. Avenged Sevenfold).

Aaron Gillespie compensates for this lack of technicality with another hyperactive, ridiculously creative performance from behind the kit (witness the start of 'The Only Survivor...), launching furious waves of polyrythmic snare rolls and tom fills into the dense guitar-driven soundscape, lending a genuine feel of urgency to 'Seperation'.

Gillespie's vocal contribution is also of the highest calibre but is much less present than previous UnderOath records, leaving plenty of space for frontman Spencer Chamberlain to viciously exorcise his personal demons in another emphatic, desperate vocal performance. Chamberlain's drug and alcohol problems obviously provide inspiration for a bulk of the album's lyrics (eg. 'Breathing In A New Mentality'), creating a genuine sense of catharsis for many of the tracks and lending credibility to the sheer rage personified by his roaring vocal delivery. Chamberlain's range has progressed several yards from his voice on 'Define' and is light years ahead of the monotone, Dallas Taylor-influenced screaming presented on his first record with the Oath, 'They're Only Chasing Safety'. Chamberlain now presents an impressive array of guttural growls, forceful bellows, throat-shredding screams and even a surprisingly impressive singing voice, proving again why he is regarded as one of the best frontmen on today's international hardcore scene.

All in all, 'Lost In The Sounds Of Seperation' is an impressively creative and well-written record, a necessary statement against the currently blastbeat-and-breakdown obsessed metalcore scene, and manages to transcends the genre trappings of a 'hardcore' band and present a hugely intriguing and emotive selection of songs that defy the conventional standards of heavy music itself. Whilst not being a perfect record (it does get a little slow at about the halfway mark), 'Seperation' is a pretty damn good album and a striking addition to UnderOath's sterling discography.

You like, you'll like:
UnderOath - Define The Great Line
Isis - Oceanic
Botch - We Are The Romans
Norma Jean - Vs The Anti-Mother
Oh, Sleeper - When I Am God

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