written by Katlyn Shannon
Underøath’s 8th studio album has been received with a slew of controversy from old and new fans alike. Erase Me is the first record the band has put out in almost a decade and was released on April 6th, 2018, eight full years since the day of Aaron Gillespie’s last show with the band. The record followed the February 22, 2018 release of the single from Erase Me, “On My Teeth”. With this album being so highly anticipated, many fans were less than pleased with the direction the band had chosen to go with their sound, and also the ideals expressed within their lyrical content. Not only is this the first record from the band to feature the use of profanity, but this is also the first time the band has openly expressed a disconnect from their former Christian based views.
The first single off of the album, “On My Teeth” opens with a fiery energy and fast-paced drum progression that immediately draws the listener in. Coupled with an upbeat catchy tempo, lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain belts lyrics that serve as the first obvious manifestation of the direction that Underøath is trying to portray. He begins with hard-hitting lyrics “Let’s get this straight/ I’m fine without you/ I’m not your f***ing prey/ so save yourself/ and no one else”, which feels much like the punch line in an ugly breakup. He continues with “What you believe/ what you believe/ what you believe/ your life is a lie/ Get over it/ get over it/ get over it, with his signature guttural screams to end the verse. This very much suggests that the band no longer holds the belief that religion and/ or a Christian faith-based outlook was something they wanted to identify with moving forward. “On My Teeth” is the first track that drummer Aaron Gillespie and Spencer Chamberlain have shared vocals on in since Gillespie’s departure from the band in 2010. The duo creates a dynamic sound that flows so cohesively together and gives the single a very individual and unique sound. Many fans didn’t feel the single measured up to their preconceived expectations. If one was to come into this expecting UØ as they sounded on “Ø” (Disambiguation), or even that of Lost in the Sound of Separation, he or she is very much in for a surprise. The sound the band seems to be going for is more open-minded, and carries a more mature energy.
The new direction pays homage of sorts to previous work from “Ø”, but has a more mainstream, radio-friendly sound and will perform well on radio stations. Full of raw honesty and creative riffs, this is a great track to display their newfound ideals, and an excellent representation of the theme of the album, moving forward without reserve. The band has posted short clips of the writing and recording process of the album on their Vevo channel on YouTube that can be viewed here, which engages the audience in a raw, genuine and very unique look at the band’s writing process. It showcases a firsthand view of the eloquent symmetry and shared artistry that defines UØ and separates them from any other band in their genre right now. There seven episodes of the recording process, averaging a minute and a half in length.
The second single off Erase Me, “Rapture” offers a more mainstream-oriented listening experience than the previous single, as it features entirely clean vocals from Chamberlain. This song features a heavy rock vibe that shies from the metalcore sound UØ has for so long been acquainted with. “Rapture” is a very spirited track that identifies the struggles of an intimate relationship and wanting to be free of it all. This track is filled with saturated lyrical content dripping in exaltation at the idea of castigation. Chamberlain speaks to this with lyrics in the chorus, “Lead me to the rapture set my body free/ higher than the flames set ablaze inside of me, whoa/ There’s no turning back, there’s no coming down/ I’m forever lost, there’s no coming down”. It seems as if he urges to rid himself of the connection of someone or something he once held very dear, to cleanse himself of that bond that he used to find so elating. Even if the new direction takes a few listens to get into, there’s no doubt that this album will evoke very serious feelings.
Finding a new sound, combined with a thirst to express their true emotion and portray a very honest message has fueled the diamond in the rough that is Erase Me. When approached without prejudice to their “old sound” and an open mind, this album jams. It provides for a very intellectual connection for the audience as well, to offer a well-rounded pure musical encounter.
Other notable tracks from Erase Me include “ihateit”, another great contender for mainstream rock stations. This is the second track to feature profanity on the album, and UØ really pushes the limits of their sound here – it’s a very refreshing result. “ihateit” displays a catchy melody and powerful vocals to close the song on a powerful note. “Hold Your Breath” is the third song that utilizes profanity, but also a track that longtime fans will very much enjoy as it sounds most like their older records. “In Motion” is an intriguing display of very vulnerable, exposable lyrics and does a great job of expressing the transition of the ideology and mindset behind this album. The eleventh and closing track on all albums (except the Target specific release which has two more songs), “I Gave Up” carries a mellow sound and seems a cry for understanding and aid.
The two bonus tracks found on the Target release, “Loneliness”, and “Another Life” feature words that are hard to swallow and can be interpreted to display their distaste for their past religious experiences and their relationship with such. Overall, Underøath exploring their sound and finding what really defines them has allowed them to evolve and to move forward and progress in their own happiness, which in turn has allowed for this a phenomenal record. Appreciating and creating art and freedom of expression is one of the most therapeutic ways of healing, and Erase Me truly challenges the mind and for some, the ear.
A few days and it’ll be something you find yourself singing in the shower because it’s stuck in your head. Overall would rate this as a 3.9/5.