on November 15, 2010
Everybody's hearts sank when the news broke that Aaron Gillespe was leaving the band. Most people (including me) were really worried about the state of the band whether it was the beginning of the decline for Underoath. That meant if they were to continue their high level of musicianship, they needed to get the right drummer to fill in. Daniel Davison, who was phenomenal with Norma Jean, was that one guy and has filled that missing void very well.
Underoath has a knack for one-uping themselves. I'm always stunned how they are able to do that (now) after 5 albums, but they find a way to reinvent themselves while still staying true to who they are as a band. I love how this album is harder and darker than other albums (excluding their 2 albums preceding The Changing of Times). In Division, Catch Myself Catching Myself and Illuminator are the staple Underoath energy songs you'd expect from them by now. But songs like Paper Lung and A Divine Eradication are different in contrast not only with each other but with Underoath's own style. Paper Lung is a slow building song that rides a heavy but calm bass line that ends in a blood pumping crescendo. It's quiet but very dark and heavy. On the other side, A Divine Eradication is Underoath's hardest hitting song ever with bass lines that'll vibrate a house. There's also Driftwood and Reversal which features Chirs's amazing work on keys/synths, which builds on what he was able to do on the last album. They're very digital/technical sounding with a bit of erie atmosphere.
If Lost In the Sound of Separation was Chirs Dudley's breakthrough album then Disambiguation is Spencer's, who now takes full reigns of vocals and does a phenomenal job at both screaming and singing. I'm amazed he's able to do both still and can do it without Aaron. I am just a little disappointed that the album, with how epic it is, comes in under 40 mins. Define the Great Line showed that they could make epic progressive songs like in Casting Such a Thin Shadow and then stray from that in a way. Who Will Guard the Guardians and In Completion do capture that mood but doesn't sustain it for very long. Another thing i'd like to mention is that the packaging is AMAZING. For those who bought this album as an MP3 album you're really missing out because the artwork is very well planned out as a hands on experience.
Underoath has always set the bar high for themselves when going into writing a record and always seem to make it higher after it's all done.
on November 21, 2010
I'll make this first paragraph short and to the point for those who don't want to read this whole review: YOU MUST BUY THIS ALBUM! Yes it is that good.
When I found out Aaron was leaving the band, I like many others, was skeptical that Underoath could continue to produce extraordinary music. However, halfway through this album I had made up my mind - this is an amazing record!
Although this is probably their most different sounding album since Spencer joined the band it is still top notch Underoath. Spencer just keeps getting better and better and writing great music.
This album is the most hardcore yet most soft sounding Underoath record they've made. One minute Spencer is screaming his head off in a frenzied breakdown, the next he's blending his gritty yet melodic vocals into a smoothly flowing chorus. This is no doubt the most diverse Underoath record to date. Songs like In Division and My Deteriorating Incline will create an internal mosh pit within your head, while songs like Paper Lung and Illuminator will have you swaying to the rough, expertly crafted melody. The remixes at the end of the deluxe album also add another diverse touch to it as well, and I would say they are worth the extra two bucks.
"In Completion": As I said before you MUST get this album. Even with a change of lineup, and a change of pace, Disambiguation is as good as Underoath (and the hardcore genre for that matter) gets. This album will please any set of ears; from the first time Underoath listener to the seasoned "#1 Underoath fan boy".
PLEASE BUY THIS ALBUM!!! (and make it a deluxe while you're at it.)
on November 9, 2010
Since their early days, Underoath has been constantly evolving and changing their sound. Disambiguation has proven to differ greatly from the band's more popular releases (e.g. They're Only Chasing Safety, Define the Great Line) with the departure of Aaron Gillespie's effortless clean vocals and swift, rythmic drum beats. However, Spencer has stepped up to the plate, tackling the roles of lead "lung piercing" screamer as well as the missing clean vocals in spite of negative circumstances surrounding the album's production. I was hesitant about deeper, more diaphragm centered screams that are littered through Disambiguation. But, popping out my headphones after the 11 new tracks, I found that I very much enjoy the way in which he is able to switch between clean vocals and screams without hindering the sound of the instruments, even though he comprises nearly the entire vocal track. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, persay; but Underoath deserves a fighting chance from their following. They delivered an up to par album that has a few hidden gems jampacked within. While not their best, my ears will welcome their improved sound over scores of other post hardcore bands' efforts any day
on May 13, 2012
The first time I listened to this album, I didn't like it. I was hoping for something like Define The Great Line, but what I got was something totally diffferent. After listening through the album a couple times, I've decided that this is my new favorite Underoath record. The style is WAY darker than their previous releases, and I like it bettter. It hits far harder than their previous albums. I know this may seem like sacrilege, but I'm beginning to like Spencer's cleans better than Aaron's. Not only that, but Spencer's screams have gotten more brutal dynamic. The overall sound of the band has matured in an impressive way. Some of the songs like My Deteriorating Incline, Illuminator and A Divine Eradication make me want to get up and kill something.
Overall: This album is very different from their previous releases, but it's still amazing. These guys blow me away every album. If you're a long-time fan or just getting introduced to this band, buy the album. You won't regret it.
on April 11, 2011
I am a little different from other Underoath fans in that I got on board at Lost in the Sound. Though I do enjoy their older music, I've always liked the darker stuff that Spencer has done because I think they explore the theme of their own sinfulness before God in an incredible and emotional way. I thought Lost in the Sound was the best I'd ever hear from any Christian band in that vein.
Disambiguation is better. It's more forceful, more melodic, darker, more emotional, and an even deeper look into the hearts of the musicians. I love Aaron Gillespie's music, but with his pop sensibilities gone, and the able musicianship of Chris from Norma Jean, the dark metal sound is more cohesive and more striking. And the songwriting is at its best.
The album ends too soon, and the first half is stronger than the second, but it's just so original, so real, so well-conceived and recorded that I just can't pull my ears away from it.
Thanks Underoath! You guys are inspiring and very gifted. One question I have is, why didn't you put more of the Gospel into this album? Lost in the Sound ends with the line that "We're forgetting our forgiveness," a reminder of Christ's atonement at the end of an epic of horrifying self-examination. Disambiguation begins and ends in horrible self-examination. Even "Who Will Guard the Guardians," a brief peek at hope in God, is book-ended with the terror of being sinful man. Have you guys concluded that the Gospel just isn't convincing or effective in musical format? That you focus on man's lostness, then witness one-on-one with friends? I'll be sure to ask you again when I see you in His kingdom. Blessings!
on September 21, 2012
This album may be a return to the hardcore sound of the band's earlier stuff, but it doesn't have the grace, focus, or balance of "They are only chasing safety" or "Define the great line."
I really loved seeing them in concert years ago, but this record doesn't do justice to the talent that the band used to demonstrate.
on April 28, 2011
With Aaron Gillespie parting ways I was skeptical about this album. However, since Aaron wasn't even there when i saw them on warped tour in Columbus (the drummer from scary kids scaring kids had to fill in) and they still put on an AMAZING show without him. I figured I'm not going to miss out on a possibly epic album. Needless to say these guys delivered as always. Although, I miss Aaron's Vocals in the mix, Spencer stepped it up to do all the vocals as well as screams. His voice is not quite as high pitched and now they sound a little more metal in my opinion and a little less than screamo as before (IMHO). I'm a drummer so I was nervous about a new guy stepping in and wondered if he would fill Aaron's shoes. He definitely did a great job, although it kind of changes up their overall sound quite a bit with different style beats, and different vocals this album was a hit for me. Underoath is still one of my most favorite bands. Can't wait for the next album already.
on January 9, 2012
Confession time. I have never been an Underoath fan. The mere thought of their music always evoked my gag reflex. I formed my opinion of the band based on people I knew who liked them, which, needless to say, wasn't a good opinion. That all changed when I saw them perform live on the Cool Tour this past July. I was blown away at just how wrong I had been about the band and their sound. So the next day, I went back to listen to their albums and, again, I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit. Not only did I not like it, but there were times when it was painful to listen to. There was an obvious difference between the Underoath I saw live, and the Underoath I heard on those albums. That difference was drummer and clean vocalist, Aaron Gillespie, who left the band in April 2010 (a few months before I saw them in concert). Since Ø (Disambiguation) is the first Aaron-less album in the band's thirteen year existence (their fifth full length overall), I eagerly awaited it hoping it would help eliminate the huge disconnect I felt and offer more of what I was looking for from the band.
I'll admit that I was nervous when I received the album. I read through the press materials and a quote from guitarist Tim McTague jumped out at me immediately: "We've never been afraid of singing, but the big poppy choruses are gone. This record has a lot more of a mature feeling. It wasn't that we hated melody, but we wanted it to be a proper fit." Hoping he was right, I held my breath and clicked play.
Ø (Disambiguation)`s first track "In Division" offers up a perfect representation of everything I had hoped for--a thick, driving guitar tone, diverse vocals and an infinitely catchy hook that's completely void of "emo". Frankly, the song sets the bar quite high for the rest of the album. "Catch Myself Catching Myself" continues the album's momentum and kept me feeling quite optimistic about this "new" Underoath. The song features a chorus I'm quite fond of where vocalist Spencer Chamberlain sings "I want to watch them burn it down", mildly resembling Norma Jean's "Falling From The Sky: Day Seven".
The album certainly isn't without its share of pleasant surprises. Dissonance, feedback and distortion are used frequently, but in a pleasing and balanced way that prevents it from being overkill to the listener. The band throws in a few experimental tracks with "Paper Lung", "Driftwood" and "In Completion". All three of these songs see the band take a moodier, more atmospheric approach than you might expect. "Paper Lung" and "In Completion" introduce a slight Deftones vibe to provide a nice change of pace from some of the album's more heavy hitting tracks. "Driftwood" is a Radiohead-inspired song that really shows the band's riskier side. Initially, it was one of the tracks that just didn't work for me personally because I felt it disrupted the album's flow. After a couple more listens though, it really started to settle in to the album nicely.
Other powerful tracks on the album are "Illuminator", "A Divine Eradication", "Vacant Mouth" and "My Deteriorating Incline". However, while Ø (Disambiguation) is a strong album, there were a few minor issues holding it back from the illusive 5.0 rating. I found the tracks "Driftwood" (initially) and "Reversal" to be sub-par in comparison to the remainder of songs presented. And...well, that's really my only complaint.
Ø (Disambiguation)`s production duties were shared by Matt Goldman (producer for all of The Chariot's albums) and Jeremy SH Griffith (producer for Norma Jean's Meridional). That is especially relevant because Underoath set out with a goal to make this album sound much more organic than their previous albums; "more like [their] live experience rather than a flawless, computerized project" according to McTague. Add to that the fact that Gillespie's replacement is Daniel Davison, former drummer for Norma Jean, and it's no surprise that you'll hear hints of mathcore nuances scattered throughout the album.
There is something I feel obligated to note, even though the review risks entering into "too long" territory. Spencer Chamberlain deserves an immense amount of credit for his diverse vocal work on Ø (Disambiguation). To transition from sharing vocal responsibilities with Gillespie to being the sole vocalist is one thing; but to exceed in the manner he does here is something different entirely, and he makes it seem effortless. The previous clean "emo" vocals from Gillespie have been replaced by Chamberlain's airy, atmospheric cleans, and the result is an album with a more mature sound.
It's obvious that this is a more cohesive Underoath than ever before, with a clear vision of who they are and where they are going. Take the Underoath you used to know, subtract The Almost and add Norma Jean. That's the new (and improved) Underoath you'll get on Ø (Disambiguation). It's their most diverse effort yet, and represents a complete rebirth for a band that some might say didn't even need it. As for me, I couldn't be happier with the "new" Underoath. Maybe I wasn't a fan before, but I certainly am now.
on September 30, 2012
A fantastic journey.
You can practically smell the chaos. From begining to end, this talented band reveals their skill in composition, structure, & musicianship. Like a well written book, this release engages you throughout its entirety. A must.
on November 9, 2010
I'm going to keep this short.
"Disambiguation" is the best Underoath record thus far. Though it lacks any really memorable melodies, which much have gone the way of the buffalo when drummer/ singer/ founding member Aaron Gillespie left the band earlier this year, the record is the bands most consistant. The record plays much better the full way through, each song working with each other like a piece of a puzzle. It creates and sustains a mood throughout, but even better it deepens that mood, offering different shades and feels as the record progresses. Though not a concept album, "Disambiguation" certainly plays like one. It feels like one thirty two minute piece of music rather than a collection of songs.
The band is playing and writing tightier than ever before. The drumming is as crushing as ever, but a little more intricate and interesting. The guitars are thicker and heavier, but just as likely to add tension and texture as they are to add volume. The bass is funkier and more melodic than it has been on previous records, and the keyobards, when audible, add greatly to the vibe of the record. The band is firing on all cylinders.
But the biggest surprise, and a very pleasant one at that, is the vocals and lyrics of now sole vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. Whether it be because he can focus more on writing the full songs instead of parts or whatever, Chamberlain absolutley stuns on the record, sliding from his guttural howl to a surprisingly gruff yet melodic voice. Free to follow his muse solely, Chamberlain absolutley stuns on the whole record.
With a little more melody (occasionally the songs become a little same soundy, especially in the middle portion) "Disamibugation" would have been, more than likely, the record of the year. It falls a little short, but also points to a really bright and interesting future for the band. If they continue with this path, it's safe to say that in five years time Underoath will have created the classic album that they seem fully capable of making.