Underøath – Erase Me (Fearless Records)

Underøath are set to release their 8th studio album, Erase Me, tomorrow (April 5, 2018) courtesy of Fearless Records.  Erase Me is a departure for the once openly Christian metalcore pioneer, for the first time the group is not aligning themselves with any current Christian artists; vocalist Spencer Chamberlain no longer practices Christianity or identifies himself as a Christian, and drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie says he is spiritual but has no need for organized religion.  Fans have been beating down the door for new music since the band regrouped in 2015 and on February 22nd they finally got what they’ve been waiting for, the release of the band’s debut single, “On My Teeth”.  Fans were surprised, to say the least, when they heard Spencer Chamberlain sing, ‘fuck’.  So what does all of this mean for Erase Me and Underøath?  Simply put, not much.  The band has changed directions….again.  And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Underøath kicks off with “It Has to Start Somewhere“, which is very Nothing More-esque.  Aaron Gillespie’s drums are big, Chamberlain’s clean vocals are gritty, and the guitars are relatively clean.  The track is youthful, more so than one would expect from a band that has been around for nearly 20 years.  The Underøath metalcore fans  love and remember is discernible, but fans may have to squint their ears for them to hear it.  It is a bit more post-hardcore or even progressive than metalcore, and really sets the stage for the direction the band has decided to go with Erase Me.  “Rapture” and “Wake Me” are a bit more poppy, catchy, and melodic than we are used to hearing from the guys; both are very radio-friendly and boast 100% clean vocals.  Radio-friendly isn’t negative, they will just appeal more to the rock masses than old-school Underøath fans and hey, every band needs new fans.

The first single off the album, “On My Teeth“, seems so much shorter than 3:10, possibly because it brings the heaviness that we know of love from the guys and you don’t want it to end.   Let us not forget that Chamberlain uses the word ‘fuck’ on this track as well, you know, like the rest of us say every 5-minutes.  The fact that the use of this word would cause anyone to gasp in shock is utterly mind-boggling to me.  Like, have you lived under a rock?  I get it, the band is no longer singing the gospel and that comes as a shock to those that love Christian rock/metal, but most of us question our faith at one time or another.  When life kicks us in the ass, MOST Christians question their faith, and some even stray, but the beauty of Christianity is that you can change your mind, if you so choose.  You can go from a believer to disbeliever and back to a believer, because it is faith and faith isn’t a solid, permanent object, it is fluid and ever changing.  It ebbs and flows, just like life.  For Chamberlain, that loss of faith came from his battle with drug addiction.  Instead of finding love, support, and understanding from the Christian community, he found isolation, judgement, and disdain.  This is why it is SO important to be the best people we possibly can to others, we change every person’s life that we touch, be that for the better or the worse, so be a good person…EVERY DAY, EVERY MINUTE, EVERY SECOND.

Bloodlust” is by far the weakest track on Erase Me, the melody is a bit flat and the chorus pretty darn boring.  Not the band’s best work, it isn’t terrible, just not very exciting either.  Thankfully, “Sink With You” follows that bit of a snoozer and makes you forget what just happened.  The guitar riffs laid down by Tim McTague and James Smith and synth work by Chris Dudley, are most excellent; the instrumental work on this particular track is all around extraordinary.  Oh, and we can’t forget to mention the pulverizing breakdown in the song’s final moments….thank you for that.  “ihateit” slows things down a bit and you know what?  I didn’t mind it.  The track is beautiful, deep, and emotional.  The lyrics, ‘God, erase me.  We don’t deserve the life you give. I don’t deserve the life you give.  God, I can’t change at all.’ seemingly speak to the feeling of isolation and depression felt by Chamberlain during his battle with addiction.  Funny enough, the lyrics almost contradict Chamberlain’s current lack of faith, so I’m  not quite sure what to make of that.  I really enjoyed the track, the deeper meaning doesn’t really matter.

Hold Your Breath” speeds things back up and has a radio-friendly catchiness, that somehow doesn’t lose the heaviness.  The track has quite a bit of bite to it; with the perfect mix of screams and heavy hitting hook, this one is a winner.  “No Frame” highlights Chris Dudley’s most excellent synth work.  The chorus on this one is a bit odd; it is almost a chant, very unexpected.  The verses are faster paced, in complete contrast to most songs.  About the 2:13 mark the heavy synth kicks in and a minute later heavier vocals.  The song is so different, I didn’t know what to make of it at first.  I’m not going to lie, I fuckin’ love it.  It is so original, that it may take a listen or two to appreciate it, but you will appreciate it.  Trust me.  “In Motion” is a bit heavier with a mix of very clean vocals, grittier vocals, and epic screams.  The chorus is very catchy with a very The Used’s The Bird and the Worm” feel to it.  It is a good track, not remarkable, but it is good.  “I Gave Up” closes out Erase Me and I couldn’t think of a more perfect ending to a new beginning.  It is a very experimental track, changing style and speed every few moments.  I would put this one in the same category as “No Frame“, so very different than anything the band has ever done before, but so damn good.

Erase Me is not a reunion album that regurgitates the sounds your favorite band has done before; it is new, original, and everything the old Underøath was afraid to be.  Not because they weren’t true to themselves but anything other than their status quo felt not-Underøath enough, which left the band empty.  Shedding that self-inflected stigma, the band was able to put out a release that is artistic, progressive, experimental, heavy yet poppy, and meaningful.  Not many bands can do what Underøath have done with Erase Me, not only from a technical perspective but an emotional perspective as well.  They took a risk, essentially opening their personal diary of failure, struggle, and internal demons for all of us to hear. Without risk there is no reward and for Underøath Erase Me is a risk that has paid off.  Not simply because it is a good album (and it is), but the road of self discovery, recovery, and honesty with themselves that these fellows have traveled is priceless and there isn’t a chart, radio station, or level of sales that will ever come close to that feeling of satisfaction (or at least the satisfaction they should feel for this album and growth as human beings).  Erase Me is available tomorrow, April 6th, so make sure to grab a copy! Bloodrock Media Rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 axes.

Tracklisting
1. It Has To Start Somewhere
2. Rapture
3. On My Teeth
4. Wake Me
5. Bloodlust
6. Sink With You
7. ihateit
8. Hold Your Breath
9. No Frame
10. In Motion
11. I Gave Up

Lineup
Spencer Chamberlain – Vocals/Guitar
Timothy McTague – Guitar/Vocals
James Smith – Guitar
Grant Brandell – Bass
Aaron Gillespie – Drums/Vocals
Christopher Dudley – Keyboard

Make sure to check out Underøath  on tour and most of the summer festivals (Rock on the Range, Welcome to Rockville, Download,etc)

April 20 Las Vegas, NV @ Las Rageous
April 27 Jacksonville, FL @ Welcome to Rockville
April 28 Sunrise, FL @ Fort Rock
April 30 Birmingham, AL @ Iron City
May 1 Athens, GA @ Georgia Theater
May 3 Knoxville, TN @ Mill and Mine
May 4 Charlotte, NC @ Carolina Rebellion
May 5 Lynchburg, VA @ Phase 2
May 6 Bethlehem, PA @ The Sands
May 8 Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
May 9 Wallingford, CT @ The Dome at Oakdale
May 11 Providence, RI @ Fete Ballroom
May 12 Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids
May 14 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
May 15 Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
May 16 Ft. Wayne, IN @ Pierre’s
May 18 Columbus, OH @ Rock on the Range
May 19 Lexington, KY @ Manchester Music Hall
May 20 Springfield, MO @ Gillioz
May 22 Corpus Christi, TX @ Concrete Street Amphitheatre
May 23 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
May 24 Dallas, TX @ Bomb Factory
May 25 Little Rock, AR @ Metroplex
May 26 Pryor, OK @ Rocklahoma
June 15 Paris, France @ Download Festival Paris
June 16 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Melkweg
June 21 Dessel, Belgium @ Festivalpark Stenehi
June 22 – 24 Scheessel, Germany @ Hurricane Festival
June 22 – 24 Neuhausen Ob Eck, Germany @ Southside Festival
June 23 Dessel Belgium @ Graspop Metal Meeting
June 28 Prague, Czech Republic @ Aerodrome Festival
June 29 Madrid, Spain @ Download Festival Madrid
June 30 Ysselsteyn, Netherlands @ Jera on Air
July 12 – 14 Cadott, WI @ Rock Fest
July 13 Oshkosh, WI @ Rock USA
July 28 – 29 Montreal, QC @ Heavy Montreal
August 24 Reading, UK @ Reading Festival
August 25 Leeds, UK @ Leeds Festival

 

Written by April Baggins for Bloodrock Media on April 5, 2018