Release Date: January 14th, 2022
Underoath’s ninth album is brutal, hard-hitting, and violent. And it is fantastic. Everything is so intense and vicious it feels like a non-stop beat down. Opening track “Damn Excuses” sets the tone for the record: angry, heavy, and fucking bleak. From there, the band gives you little room for rest as the vitriol only grows on tracks like “Hallelujah” and “Numb.” Even during the slower moments, there’s still an intensity and underlying vitriol to songs like “(No Oasis)” and “Take a Breath.” Just when you think you have a chance to catch your breath, the band rears back and hits you in the face yet again.
The album is heavy not only in terms of its sound but also in its themes. Death, existential dread, and questioning the meaning of life permeate the record. Sometimes the band sounds nihilistic on songs like “Cycle” where the band laments “Darker than Heaven, empty as God / There is nothing to live for.” Other times, they’re just mad as hell like on “We’re All Gonna Die” where they’re jaded as they scream “Hey! We’re all gonna die! /I think you’re fucking fake!” The album is bleak, but it’s also cathartic. You don’t walk away from the record depressed or hopeless. Rather, you’re relieved. It’s a space for you to put aside that PMA and tap into those ugly feelings for 40 minutes. And considering what we’ve been through for the past two, going on three years, it’s the release we desperately need.
While there are songs that capture Underoath’s classic hardcore style (just try not to think of They’re Only Chasing Safety while listening), they continue to evolve and expand their sound. This isn’t a repeat of what they’ve done before. Rather, they’ve found a happy medium between giving fans the heavy-hitting music they crave and experimenting with different elements to push them out of their comfort zone. We get snatches of melodic pop, noisy metalcore, and some light industrial. But the biggest sonic change is heard on the phenomenal closing track “Pneumonia.”
After being bombarded with in-your-face, unbridled aggression, we suddenly have this track that opens with a lush, ambient soundscape. Everything is frail as Aaron Gillespie quietly sings “I feel like I’m drowning/Like I’ll never get out alive/I feel you’re a mountain/I kill myself to climb.” The mood is hushed and ethereal until we get to the second half. The guitars open up and grow gritty and dirty until everything explodes. But this is only the calm before the storm. Just as things seem to have died down again, Spencer Chamberlain unleashes a guttural growl as the crushing music sweeps us towards the intense finale.
Written by guitarist Tim McTague about the death of his father, the song carries so much emotional weight not just in the lyrics, but in the music as well. All the pain, ache, and sadness that comes with death is felt in the screeching guitars, thundering percussion, and crushing riffs. The music alone takes on an emotional journey with how it starts with soft, ambient music and ends with angry, oppressive music. It’s such a powerful song and one that shows how much Underoath has grown over the years. Sure, they’re not afraid to let the rage fly and give us that classic, aggressive sound. But they’re also fearless in how they continue to evolve and reshape their sound.
Voyuerist is Underoath’s best album in years. It has a great flow where every song feels meaningful; there’s not a single track you want to skip. It also sees the band continuing to expand their sound by exploring new sounds and genres while striking a great balance between their tried-and-true sound with experimental songs. On top of that, it’s just damn good. This is the album they’ve been building up towards and it was well worth the wait.