Underoath

Ø (Disambiguation)

1. In Division
2. Catch Myself Catching Myself
3. Paper Lung
4. Illuminator
5. Driftwood
6. A Divine Eradication
7. Who Will Guard the Guardians?
8. Reversal
9. Vacant Mouth
10. My Deteriorating Incline
11. In Completion

[11/09/10 | Tooth & Nail]

For the most part, nobody likes to be considered elitist, but in metal it does seem to be almost ubiquitous. Try as I might, I went in to this record with certain expectations and few of them favourable. Despite some of the band members looking like they couldn’t possibly be any more than 12 years old, Ø marks the 7th full length LP for, evidently prolific, metalcore outfit Underoath. I had, prior to Ø, listened to a smattering of their earlier material and was led to believe this was middle of the road metalcore with radio-friendly post-hardcore leanings.

I am happy to say that appearances can be deceiving. Ø is really only metalcore if you allow the weight to be placed heavily on the latter half of the term. Absent are the palm-mute laden riffs, bland atonal breakdowns and unrelenting bass drum. In its place you find soundscaping, consistent progression through songs and riffing often similar in style to the strand of the genre epitomized by Every Time I Die. The one thing that this album seems to demonstrate above all else is maturity; they are using their wide experience within the genre to great effect.

One obvious aspect of their sound that has showed notable development since some of their earlier work is the vocals. The guttural vocals becoming much clearer and less raspy and the cleans moving from an unpleasantly high-pitched tone, somewhat reminiscent of bands like The Devil Wears Prada, to something far more accomplished. The expressive delivery achieved, at its best, sounds like it’s channeling more recent Thrice records and is, I feel, a rare success for the implementation of clean vocals in metalcore.

Ø contains a few slower tracks, where the clean vocals really take the centre stage and compared to similar efforts by others in the genre this works remarkably well. The effective combination of more aggressive metallic noise and slower atmospheric passages is demonstrated aptly in “Paper Lungs” and album highlight “In Division”. To get a feel for whether this record will appeal to you, “In Division” was a fantastic choice for the first supporting single, effectively showcasing all aspects of the band’s sound. Production throughout the album is, unsurprisingly, spot on, giving fair presence to the group’s impressive rhythm section and giving the tracks none of the tininess that often plagues the genre.

In conclusion, Ø makes for an enjoyable listen. It may not be trend-setting or surprising but it has a consistent sound that has been developed to its logical conclusion. I guess it’s a sign of the number of times they have been through the process that Underoath is a band that comes across as very comfortable with their sound.

Underoath – Ø (Disambiguation) gets…


4/5

– TC

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