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The departure of drummer, singer and founding member Aaron Gillespie was a big deal in the world of Underoath for many reasons, the biggest being the question of how it would affect the band’s sound. Gillespie was often known as the one band member to push the lighter, more melodic side of the group, so many thought his departure would steer the band into darker territory. The addition of ex-Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison, pretty much confirmed that this would happen.
The speculation over this change has now been confirmed, with the band’s seventh studio album ‘Ø (Disambiguation),’ which is amongst the heaviest material they have ever released.
This record is a grower, as it lacks the immediate, lovable post-hardcore, screams then catchy vocal hook, style songs of their past efforts. There is a healthy mix of brutality and atmospheric electronica which sets this band apart from their peers. Opening track In Division seems like an explosion of all the rage the group has bottled up in the past, a wall of distortion and screams letting you know that the kids have grown up and are no longer messing around. Vocalist Spencer Chamberlain replaces what would have been Gillespie’s smooth yelps with a hardened, rugged version of his take on clean singing.
The mellower moments of the record are amongst some of the best, proving this band still has depth and a very mature sense of songwriting. A good example of this is the album highlight, Paper Lung, the perfect post-rock song that borderlines on metal. The guitars sound like they were pulled from a Deftones record yet the song is so very clearly Underoath, an excellent summary of where the band have been and where they are going, all in one track.
The first half of the record is the strongest with tracks like Catching Myself Catching Myself and Illuminator grinding hard, showing off the amazing talents of Davison behind the kit, it would be virtually impossible for Underoath to sound like this with Gillespie still in the band. The second half loses its way slightly with songs like the instrumental Reversal, an interlude that is a welcome break from the pounding assault that has come before it but not executed as well as it could have been.
Underoath have changed, but it is for the better, and is well suited to the fan’s that have more than likely grown up a little, and will appreciate the heavier, more mature, direction the band have taken.
1. In Division
2. Catch Myself Catching Myself
3. Paper Lung
6. A Divine Eradication
7. Who Will Guard the Guardians?
9. Vacant Mouth
10. My Deteriorating Incline
11. In Completion