Underoath is renewed on new album, ‘Erase Me’
Underoath has returned with their new album, Erase Me. The metalcore six-piece, newly signed to Fearless Records, has triumphantly returned with their eighth studio album, their first record in eight years. Erase Me spans eleven tracks, and each one is direct and passionate, much more than any Underoath record we’ve heard. This an album that shouldn’t be listened to without any reservations, because it doesn’t have any. This isn’t your older sibling’s Underoath, it’s an Underoath we know and love, but grown up.
Erase Me starts off with ‘It Has to Start Somewhere,’ a song that’s packed with Aaron Gillespie’s masterful percussion and backup vocals, as well as lead vocals from Spencer Chamberlain, who really exercises his vocals on this album. A theme on this record is the separation of church and music, namely, the band’s divorce and marked separation from their previous Christian roots. This album has wisps of religious lyric imagery, but it’s regarded as a thing of the past, not something that’s a present and welcomed element. ‘It Has to Start Somewhere’ somewhat echoes this, as it depicts this battle between one’s present thoughts and former ideology. The album then switches gears in ‘Rapture’, which doesn’t focus on religion, but love. It’s a song that’s asking to be taken on a journey, knowing the risks that this journey holds.
On My Teeth, the album’s lead single serves as Underoath serving notice that this new era is going to be different. It’s explosive, defiant, and is as about ready to combust, like a dying star giving way to something new. ‘On My Teeth’ is Underoath almost wondering why they suddenly feel more found than they’ve ever been. The song’s sudden profanity and direct lyrics have upset fans, but Underoath’s made it clear- they’ve grown, and we should follow suit as they put their raw feelings into this song and this record. On ‘Wake Me,’ Spencer is asking to be made alive, and his plaintive cry is passionate, as he sings “Open up my eyes and show me salvation/Wake this body up cause I’m tired of sleeping”. After ‘Wake Me’ is ‘Bloodlust,’ which opens with a piano sequence and gains momentum as it experiments with vocal tones and structure. This song is cyclic, drifting between the quiet and raw desperation, a longing that can be felt in a way that’s almost palpable. It’s a song of desire and wanting to be one’s own.
The album then moves into ‘Sink with You,’ which is one of the more experimental songs on the record. The instruments on the beginning of ‘Sink With You’ act as a type of clarion call of something to come, just before the guitar signals that what we’re waiting for is here, and we have to pay attention. ‘Ihateit’ is the most passionate song on the album. This song visits the group’s wanting to be their true selves and not being stuck in what’s made them feel unworthy of themselves. Hold Your Breath opens with static that fades into what’s the most scream-heavy song of the record, and is the straight-up, no-holds-barred Underoath that we remember. On this song, Aaron and Spencer bring back more of their vocal dynamics that’s easier to notice than other songs. This song’s chorus has a totally different sonic dynamic that’s unexpected, but fits perfectly, easing the song along.
No Frame is the experimental track of the album, and its lyrics are somewhat abstract. Despite this, however, it’s interesting because the instruments, sampled vocal introduction, muted screams, trancelike chorus, and lyrics make the sound itself sound multi-dimensional. After ‘No Frame’, the next song on the album is ‘In Motion’. ‘In Motion’ is the anthem of Erase Me. There’s not too much to say for it because it deserves nothing but praise. Aaron Gillespie’s drums are riveting, and each member contributes an instrumental aspect that rounds out the song. This is the song that says, ‘This is who I am, without apology,’ and the breakdown sequence cements that.
Erase Me ends with ‘I Gave Up,’ which is one of the slower and emotional songs on the album. This song is simple in its beginning lyrics and instrumentation, and for good reason. It’s a journey of realizing that one has to come clean and be one’s self. The song begins with the initial regret with making that choice, but as the song moves on, its instrumentation and rising volume shows the eventual acceptance of that choice.
This album is vibrant with sound and energy. Erase Me isn’t asking for a complete erasing of what’s familiar, but it’s taking the past and becoming renewed. Underoath has changed, but through this record, they’ve shown that they have grown. This rebirth is on their own terms, and this change is theirs to navigate and for us to listen to.