Underoath - DEFINE THE GREAT LINE
It is invariably the case that a band’s music evolves over the course of time. Some bands’ sound changes more than others, but if there is a band that has kept the exact same sound for their entire career, I am unaware of them. Usually, a band’s musical evolution continues with each album release. This is the case with Underoath.
With their new release, Define the Great Line, Underoath has added a new chapter to their musical evolution. Underoath has always had a unique, and ever-changing, sound. Their album, The Changing of Times, could have been more appropriately named The Changing of Underoath’s Music, because this is what has defined their career. Each Underoath release has been unique in sound. The Changing of Times was a blend of dark metal-influenced guitar riffs and piercing vocals that can only be described as dark. Their release, They’re Only Chasing Safety, which preceded DTGL, was a huge jump from their first album. The sophomore release had great appeal among hardcore circles because of the perfect balance between screams and clean vocals, along with energetic guitar breakdowns. DTGL lacks much of the hardcore feel that made TOCS so popular. The hardcore feel is replaced with a more new metal feel…but with screams.
Though there is a big musical difference between TOCS and DTGL, there is one similarity found in the two albums: a unique sound. Having a unique sound is one of the most important things for a hardcore or metal band, as far as I’m concerned, simply because it is so easy for bands of these genres to just sound the same as all the rest. But Underoath will not settle for sounding the same as all the rest. If somebody were to ask me what band Underoath sounded like, I would think for a very long time, as I have done before, and after this long period of deep thought I would come up with an “I don’t know”. Underoath’s sound, as ever-changing as it is, is too unique to compare other bands against. This is one of the things that I like best about Underoath. It also means they are finding their own niche, if you will, in the world of music - a changing niche, but still a niche.
Having said this, I feel with DTGL, Underoath has taken a step backward. DTGL just doesn’t have the energy that is so evident when one listens to Underoath’s previous album. DTGL lacks pounding breakdowns and creative guitar riffs are few in far between compared to TOCS. The perfect blend of clean and screaming vocals are, surprisingly, nowhere to be found. DTGL is still a unique hardcore/metal sound, it’s just not as unique or innovative as TOCS.
Unfortunately, this time Underoath has changed their music for the worse. Mostly everything that made TOCS such a great listen is not big part of DTGL. To Underoath’s credit, some parts of this album are a downright pleasure to listen to…but most of it is not. The mark of a good album is that there are no songs that need to be skipped over. Unlike their previous album, Underoath’s latest release has a few songs that are destined to be skipped over by listeners frequently.For continuing their musical evolution and keeping a unique sound, I say to Underoath, rock on. For evolving their music from a great hardcore sound into something that could very well be buried in CD piles and forgotten about, I say 2/5 for Underoath’s Define the Great Line.