| "This album's way heavier, with more energy to it," Underoath told MTV about Define the Great Line, due out June 20th. I don't know about the second part of that statement... I mean, listen to any Underoath song circa They're Only Chasing Safety. You can't just sit there calmly and have "10 Friends and a Crowbar" playing in the background. There's energy in that song like a sixth-grader on Pop Rocks and Coke. And don't even get me started on Underoath live. They may be six very nice-looking Christian boys, but their music is furiously explosive--it kind of makes me want to go up to someone on the street and kick them in the face.
Now onto the "way heavier" part. I think that phrase sums up the style change rather well. Whereas TOCS featured a more melody-guided sound ("My knuckles have turned to white..." etc. etc.), DtGL is characterized by deep, ruthless, growly screams. The guitars continue the trend of carrying on an awesome melody while the singers do their own thing, something you can hear in "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door" as well as "There Could Be Nothing After This." I'm relieved that didn't change. The vocals take a while to get used to, though, since it's such a sharp change from what Underoath fans may be used to listening to. In "There Could Be Nothing," it actually starts to get a bit annoying.
In other parts, though, this album is actually softer and more experimental than the band's previous release. "Salmarnir" takes the place of TOCS' "The Blue Note," serving as a sort of vocal-less (sans some weird chanting) intermission in the middle of the album. "Returning Empty Handed," though, doesn't pick up the heaviness right away. For about four minutes it's just instrumental goodness, sounding what the intro might have been if it hadn't been shrieks of "wake up, wake up, wake up!" Then that repetitive sort of tortured screaming returns. It seems that what Underoath tried to do with this album is branch out in every direction possible from their previous style, so what you end up with is either very heavy or very weird material.
What I really liked about TOCS is that it was sing-alongable screamo. I don't know if you've ever tried, but it's rather hard to sing along to the likes of Fear Before the March of Flames unless the vocalists are conscientiously trying to sing. Underoath's brand of screamo was hard enough to be considered hardcore, but had enough of a melody so that it could be sung along to at the top of one's lungs while driving down highways. The majority of this album, as I've said, is either too brutal for ordinary throats to handle ("Casting Such a Thin Shadow"), too muted to discern lyrics, or lacking lyrics altogether. With a few exceptions, I hoped I would like Define the Great Line a lot more than I actually did, and I expect that most They're Only Chasing Safety fans will agree. If you thought that the previous album could use more heaviness or soft weirdness, though, you'll definitely love this one.
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| DEFINE THE GREAT LINE
Tooth and Nail Records
1) In Regards to Self
2) A Moment Suspended in Time
3) There Could Be Nothing After This
4) You're Ever So Inviting
6) Returning Empty Handed
7) Casting Such a Thin Shadow
8) Moving for the Sake of Motion
9) Writing on the Walls
10) Everyone Looks So Good From Here
11) To Whom It May Concern