Define The Great Line is often hailed as the archetypal Underoath album. And why not? It’s one of the more notable artistic achievements of 2000’s metalcore, as the Florida-based band really honed their songwriting skills to create a harrowing, yet anthemic record. Who amongst us can’t say they’ve sung along really loud to “Writing In The Walls” while posting on Myspace?
That being said, the band’s most impressive achievement might be on 2010’s Disambiguation. Why, you ask? Beyond the sheer musicality of the album, which impresses on its own with a much darker tone that narrated vocalist Spencer Chamberlain’s battles with personal demons, the album also has no Aaron Gillespie on it to provide the light/dark balance of the band’s previous albums. No matter, though. Daniel Davison proved a more than capable fill-in behind the kit, giving Spencer ample spotlight to shine.
Disambiguation would have made a fittingly great end to Underoath’s career at that point, to be sure. That’s obviously not the whole story, though. Underoath’s sludgier metal influences come to the forefront almost immediately on opening track “In Division”. When Spencer Chamberlain wails lyrics like “I’m planning a revolution inside my head”, you’re pretty convinced it’s what you’re also about to hear.
Disambiguation tends to channel more alternative metal and experimental soundscapes than Underoath fans might be used to. The electronic + IDM-influenced “Driftwood” and “Paper Lung” are two solid examples of this, with the latter’s buildup paying off with a satisfying musical conclusion. Meanwhile, songs like “Vacant Mouth” contain mathy, dissonant sections that seek to bring new aspects into their sound.
Of course, if you think Underoath abandoned all things dense and heavy, you would be wrong. Songs like the ferocious “My Deteriorating Incline” and “A Divine Eradicate” channel aggression and turmoil into unpredictable, breakneck freneticism, while “Illuminator” is probably the album’s biggest throwback to the past. It’s the more aggressive songs that help Daniel Davison’s drumming stand out, too.
Uproot the anchor,
Walk right out the door.
No Aaron Gillespie? No problem. On Disambiguation, Underoath plumb the depths of their soul. Exploring new musical ground while not straying too far from what they’re good at, you might well say Disambiguation is Underoath’s most important record – if not their outright best.