Album Review :
Underoath - Ø Disambiguation

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Band: Underoath

Title: Disambiguation

Label: Tooth and Nail Records

Release Date: November 9, 2010

Reviewer: Joshua Clark

Track Listing:

  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

Fans have almost been bursting in flames to hear the new Underoath album, especially after the last original member, Aaron Gillespie left the band. The time has finally come and there is the mixed bag of fans who say, “This is Underoath’s best album ever” and those who say “they aren’t Underoath anymore without Gillespie.” Which there is some truth to be taken out of both of these. It’s a new start for the band and they have gone a different direction than where they have gone before and a large part of this is due to Aaron leaving the band. Take out one of the key members, who always had a big part with the song writing process and adding his vocal talents into songs, things are bound to be different.

One major change is front man Spencer Chamberlain, now takes over all vocal duties. Without Aaron’s clean singing (that was either loved or considered high and whiny by others) included in the album, it is now all up to Chamberlain. On that note, I must say that Spencer does a rather impressive job taking on all the vocal duties. In past albums we have just got a small taste of Spencer’s clean vocals, but now we get a mix of his screams and clean vocals. His screams in the past I had always found sufficient and even are improved upon on this album. His clean vocals are pretty decent and get the job done; they almost give off an eerie and dark sound, which is noticed throughout the album as whole

There is an obvious Norma Jean sound found in this album. Which that may not come as a surprise since Norma Jean veteran Daniel Davison takes over drumming duties. Even though he had some pretty big shoes to fill, Davison brings his own touch to the band and brings just as skillful of drumming to the table as Gillespie ever had. For those worried about the drumming lacking with Aaron leaving, that really doesn’t have to be a concern since Davison does a sufficient job. While he brought his drumming skills into the band, he brings a lot to the table in influencing Underoath’s sound on this record. But it bears the question of does that bring a unique sound to Underoath or make them sound too much like Norma Jean? With a number of these songs, that happens to be the case unfortunately, even though the sound is done well.

The album jumps around having that Underoath sound that we have heard before, with a big focus on ambience on many tracks, and then it sounds like Norma Jean came in and played on some of these songs. This album is one of the darker and more brooding sounds that Underoath has ever had. You could tell there was a focusing on making that type of atmosphere. It also is probably one of their more chaotic albums as well, (Chamberlain era that is, Dallas Taylor days is a whole different story.) Also the lyrics take on a darker approach as well, settling in nicely with the darker musical atmosphere, which is a step forward from their past albums.

This album has a fair amount of good songs though and a sound that has been built upon since the DTGL days. The first four tracks, starting with “In Division” are all pretty strong pulling you into the album. Having a mix of Chamberlain’s screams and clean vocal melodies, the first track shows you what to expect of the new Underoath sound. His vocals are mixed around with some laid back sounds and just some insane guitar and drumming parts. The other three tracks up to “Illuminator” keep up this trend and are good tracks to dive into. The rest of the album is pretty solid if you don’t mind a familiar sound, and if you can get around some of the odd electronic and clicking sounds. Many may or may not mind those, but I don’t think it fits in real well and really hurt my enjoy-ability of those couple tracks. “A Divine Eradication” and “My Deteriorating Decline” were two of my favorites later in the album that are pretty chaotic, and were pretty solid songs. The album takes you through a rather a rather brutal and dark musical journey, wrapping up with “In Completion.” But even though these tracks aren’t bad there was nothing that particularly stood out as amazing and that I was overly astounded with. Nor did it really stand out as something that hasn’t been done by another band before.

Overall: It’s tricky how to rate this, because yes it is solid overall and you can’t deny the talent displayed here and how well Underoath did in making a complete and well thought out album. Through this they stretched themselves a little more than has been noticed before and overall I think it works pretty well for them. Many will say Underoath lost the one thing that made them stand out, which were the pop/rock sensibilities Aaron Gillespie brought to the table, while others never cared for the guy before. Most of it is just going to do with what style you like better, the emo-screamo flavor with Aaron or the newer direction. I really can’t honestly say this topped Defining the Great Line, or 2008’s Lost in the Sound of Separation but Disambiguation does show the band showing their most honest work since then, furthering upon that sound and giving us an ok effort. The album isn’t awful but I can’t get past calling it anything more than decent either, which has been my overall feel with most of Underoath’s work. I like what they do but it’s never something that pushes them to being one of my favorite artists. So the album is fine for what it is but nothing to write home about either.