Anyone who was worried that an eight year gap between albums may have softened Underoath’s touch can breathe a sigh of relief. Erase Me is definitely more polished than anything from the earlier half of their catalogue, but the core sound (emphasis on core) is as much like a wolf foaming at the mouth as ever before.
First thing’s first: there is not enough praise in the world to shower on returning drummer and band founder Aaron Gillespie. He’s a virtuosic talent who sounds as at home on frenetic bangers like “It Has to Start Somewhere” and “On My Teeth” as he does on slower tracks like “Wake Me” and the extremely excellent “No Frame.”
Spencer Chamberlain also continues to cement his status as one of the all-time great punk rock voices. This record is as much a tour-de-force for him as it is for Gillespie; very few vocalists are able to convey emo with such a varied pallet. He can do sweet and soft when it’s necessary (his choruses are still some of the most singable in all post-hardcore) and his rougher edge is still very much at the fore, though there is a distinct lack of the lower growling that used to pop up every so often.
Perhaps the most direct shift towards something different is the departure from more articulated riff work in favour of more atmospheric – and often very electronic – passages. These in no way water down the record’s heaviness, but it’s a different kind of heavy that’s more pensive than fist pumping. There may be one too many soft, moody sections for OG fans to abide by, but if you’re open to it then they provide some of the record’s best forward momentum. If that‘s not your cup of tea, you can and always press next to find yourself in the middle of what will inevitably become a solid collection of live moshpit staples.
Some may complain that much of Erase Me sticks too close to a tried and true post-hardcore formula that Underoath themselves once pioneered, but when the result sounds this good and, more importantly, this diverse, then who really needs it to change?
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy