Album Review: Underoath – Erase Me
The moment we have been waiting for ever since the band announced their official return in 2015, the scene’s favorite hard rock group Underoath have officially dropped their first album in eight years. The band has seen trial, tribulation, and triumph in the time they spent apart, discovering themselves and their relationship to the universe in the process. Fans will remember Underoath’s disbandment in 2012 when the band announced a heart-wrenching statement online, some time after drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie’s departure and their last (at the time) album Ø Disambiguation (2010). “We were just done by that point,” says frontman Spencer Chamberlain. “We never knew how long it was going to last. How many hardcore bands last? It’s not like we hated each other, the music or the industry. We blinked, and a decade went by of never being home.”
Some speculated that Gillespie’s departure would foreshadow the band’s break-up, while others were completely blindsided by their decision to call it quits. All in all, the music scene rallied in astonishment when the band first came back to life with their Rebirth Tour, which was so successful with the first leg that it went worldwide. Now, we rejoice again at the band’s official studio album return, equipped with the full line-up of their past emblematic releases.
The band admits they struggled with their image in the past, both with their proclaimed faith and their attempt to stay in the “this sounds like Underoath” box. Nothing has changed in regards to their ear for melody, like the ones we’ve all come to love since the “Chasing Safety days” (i.e. They’re Only Chasing Safety ). The album kicks off with “It Has To Start Somewhere”, a grappling and telling track that sets the stage for a trip of angst and anxiety. This song is what might be considered that safe, expected “Underoath” sound. It’s punchy, it’s fast, it’s got intricate drum parts, but still with a new degree of lyrical vulnerability that we haven’t seen as strong before.
There is definitely something to be said, though, about the band’s fearless genre experimentation as the tracklist progresses, especially with the song “Wake Me”. They play with diversity here by pulling the most interesting aspects of mainstream music, like infectious hooks and synthy melodies, all the while adding some Underoath flair. Devout Underoath fans may need to have an open mind while listening to this track in particular to appreciate its melodramatic brilliance.
“Hold Your Breath” is an absolute standout track on the album, and it may very well become a fan-favorite of Underoath’s new era. The song is a great concoction of rhythmic dexterity, sing-songy ingenuity, and lyrical inquisitiveness. The song also seems to be illuminating the questioning of faith and religion Chamberlain opened up about when he says, “I’m not your pawn anymore, I’ve come all this way alone, I’m on my own,” as if speaking onto the community he tore himself away from. Though the lyrics may hold a separate meaning to each member and the experiences they’ve had, the band has collectively made it clear that they are where they belong now, with or without faith on their side.
The album as a whole is an homage to moving on and growing stronger, and the musical elements portrayed throughout each song reflect this. There are songs that are reminiscent of their past albums in some ways, but ultimately each song exhibits a new level of their songwriting core. Powerful guitar riffs in “On My Teeth” and overlaid vocal duets between Chamberlain and Gillespie in “Bloodlust” send flashbacks of their iconic release Define The Great Line (2006), while atmospheric electronics and driving drum and bass lines in “No Frame” show comparison to their more experimental release Lost In The Sound Of Separation (2008). However, at the end of the day, Erase Me stands alone as a cohesive work, signifying a new wave of the band’s legendary existence.
The best part about this record? They don’t care if you like the first single, but not the next. They don’t care if you think this doesn’t “sound like their old stuff.” The amount of pride, strength, and internal prosperity saturated throughout the album is impenetrable. They stand by their decisions as a unified entity–be it by denouncing themselves as a Christian band, shying away from their expected “Underoath sound”, or by throwing a couple swear words here and there.
Ironically, what was the demise of the band was also its saving grace (no pun intended). The pressure of being trailblazers in the Christian rock scene, their reluctance to step outside the box, and the time they spent away from it all were the very ingredients necessary to create an album unlike anything they have worked on before. Erase Me is undeniably the breakthrough Underoath needed, as much for their career as for themselves.
Erase Me Track Listing:
1. It Has To Start Somewhere
3. On My Teeth
4. Wake Me
6. Sink With You
8. Hold Your Breath
9. No Frame
10. In Motion
11. I Gave Up
Underoath Tour Dates:
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 Theatre
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 Piere’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