Sound — 8
In their latest outing, Lost in the Sound of Separation, Underoath appear to have settled on a sound that the band wants to write and play. That sound is a continuation of their Define the Great Line style, a mixture of metalcore aggresiveness combined with melodic... something. Their style is one that is fairly unique to them. Firstly I'll start with vocals. Spencer Chamberlain explodes out the gate on this one with the opener "Breathing in a New Mentality" with deep gutteral roars fans of DTGL will appreciate. However, Chamberlain appears to have dropped the high pitched end of his screaming, which would make this album the first to not focus on it. it's not that he has no range anymore, but it's more like all the high pitched stuff turned to mid pitched. On the one hand, it does lend them a sense of brutality; on the other, it can get a bit monotonous with less variation. I listened to this album many times and afterwards listened to DTGL and was surprised by how much I missed that high end. However, it doesn't cripple the experience at all. The guitar work this time is still impressive but not quite as tight as it was on Define the Great Line. While before there was a dense wall of melody and sound now there is a more experimental, loose meandering backdrop, mixed with open-D chord pinch harmonic chaos that threatens to blow out your speakers. The songwriting varies from song to song; "Breathing in a New Mentality" only has, say, four or five riffs in the entire song... and they're all easy to play. The same goes for "coming down is calming down" and a few others. The drumming is spot on. I have no complaints what'soever. it's technically impressive when it needs to be, and when it needs to match the looseness of the guitars the fills are employed wonderfully. One of my favorite parts of the album is on "Desolate Earth the end is near" when the palm-muting comes in; the mixing for the drums is great, especially with headphones. The first thing to note about the bass is how much more it has a say in the songs now. Where before a listener had to pick it out to hear it, now the bass will slam in out of nowhere with "riffs" (See Anyone can Dig a Hole but it Takes a Real Man to Call it Home). As this is for the most part metalcore it's role isn't terribly substantial, but it more than fits the bill. The best way I can put this album is like this; if Define the Great Line and Lost in the Sound of Separation were written at the same time, DtGL would've been the album and LitSoS would've been the collection of B-sides; the songs that were a bit quirky and different and didn't quite fit.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically, the album does suffer a bit (in my opinion). Whereas on DtGL the lyrics where poetic and varying, here they frequently dwell on desperation and the conflicts within oneself brutally and loudly. More than one breakdown on the album features an "OH GOD!". There are songs that change it up (a fault line, a fault of mine) but overall there isn't enough beauty here to lift us out of the depths of the deepest breakdowns. There are standouts though; A Fault Line, a Fault of Mine has a memorable chorus thought it takes a bit of time to get into. And while Coming Down is Calming Down is fairly simplistic musically, lyrically it may be Chamberlain's most impressive on the album. And then there's The Only Survivor was Miraculously Unharmed where chamberlain explodes vocally and lyrically with the same intensity as the music. "Someone has sewn me shut tied me to a bed! They locked me up, locked me up! Oh God! This is where they all throw me to the wolves! Dragged behind and Trampled on! I can't keep clawing at the Jaws of Hell! The silence is killing me! Nothing to calm the nerve, nothing to calm the nerve! Write down my thoughts and read me my rights. Repeat, repeat, repent and repeat!"
Overall Impression — 8
Underoath are undoubtedly the kings of their genre, and at this point there is a level of quality that they will live up to. This album is unique in many ways, and there is a lot to love about it. Though Underoath may not be in top form for this album, it is nice to see a band expand it's comfort zone. I can remember drummer Aaron Gillespie saying that the band wound never write a better record than Define the Great Line, and to me so far that statement stands true. However, Lost in the Sound of Separation is proof that Underoath do earn their worth, and that there is still plenty of creativity and explosiveness left for them to explore, as well as plenty of emotional territory to cover lyrically.