Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Underoath-- 0 (Disambiguation)

Label: Tooth and Nail
Sounds like: Dead Poetic, Zao, Norma Jean

When Underoath came onto the scene they didn't want music that had a narrative path or a melodic flow.  They wanted something that shifted constantly and sounded good blasting from the speakers.  They have succeeded that and the sixth album is no different.  The only real difference is the absence of Aaron Gillepsie and the appearance of Daniel Davison from Norma Jean.

Disambiguation has eleven tracks in which to blast out your car speakers on the way to Hot Topics.  Veterans of this six album band will be tuning their ears for the throaty gurgle of Spencer Chamberlain and the smooth coating of Timothy Mctague.  This album delivers and even pulls in some of their techno backbeats to differentiate themselves from some generic screamo band.  About 4 tracks into this album I had the idea that the singers were trying to convey. Some ambiguous power is holding them back, imprisoning me or threatening to rip the sun apart.  For what it's worth, Underoath is an inspiration to a lot of Left Behind books.  Mostly, I got the feeling that Spencer Chamberlin wrote all these songs while watching demons fight angels in heaven and seeing believers perish in the wake.  He has some valid points about how the world can drown you on Paper Lung, and his imagery on Driftwood suggests a person just getting pushed by the current of life and not fighting.  Some other songs like, Vacant Mouth and Deteriorating Incline are a call for us to fight censorship or some bigger power keeping us from doing something important.  Probably the most direct message is from Who Will Guard the Guardians, which calls humanity only reflections of reflections and calls for God to wake us up.

The guitar licks remind me of Project 86's first album mixed with some soft emo overtones.  On the slower song you can feel the band gaining some well deserved power and dynamic.  I really think that the band didn't play to their strengths here as much as they could.  On the songs that start with fast yelling you get more Rage Against the Machine type riffing.  One thing that bands like Underoath will continue to do is lose the more melodious audience because their songs feel like a big train wreck that can only be taken as a whole.  Disambiguation doesn't do anything to fight that, but the album does grow on you if you need something to blast.  I think I was unhooked by the whole scream scene after track 4 and could safely say that I heard all I wanted to hear.  I'm not sure if it was the bleeding guitars or the doom and gloom of the lyrics, but Disambiguation is really a great way to peel the paint off your walls.

When Jesus listens to Underoath, I can't help but feel him agreeing on Spencer Chamberlain's portrayal of humanity.  Our path into sin can be like drowning, while our compliance with it can make us comatose.  It does have to be God who wakes us up from the sweet sleep of the commonplace of life.  Maybe Disambiguation is our wake up call from God.

I swear we cannot wake up from this hell that we live in
But when the sun finally hits our face
We see that were merely reflections of reflections left by our predecessors
Dragged through the mud
(we can’t wake up)
Chained by the ankle
There is no more running there is no more escaping
If only God could lay his hands down on this barren land and wake us up

--Who Will Guard the Guardians

+ Metal riffs
+ Opening 4 tracks offer variety
+ Imagery on imprisonment and drowning

-- Fast yelling tracks
--Nothing stands out in the rest of the album
-- So much ambiguous topics and repeated themes of gloom


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