underoath.jpeg
Underoath - Play Your Old Stuff
Underoath

Play Your Old Stuff

October 18

Solid State Records

Underoath more or less paved the way for keyboard-driven

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Underoath's Play Your Old Stuff Re-Issue Rekindles Past Flames, Then Chokes on Them

underoath.jpeg
Underoath - Play Your Old Stuff
Underoath

Play Your Old Stuff

October 18

Solid State Records

Underoath more or less paved the way for keyboard-driven metalcore in the Southeast, so it'd only make sense that somewhere along the line the Tampa Bay natives would re-release its three best records in a shiny new package and suck out a few more dollar signs.

The catch? Underoath doesn't exist anymore. Not really, anyways.

The three albums featured -- The Changing of Times, They're Only Chasing Safety, and Define the Great Line -- are indeed genre-defining releases, so snagging all three for a single price is a steal for anyone playing catchup.

However, the musical snapshot these songs represent is nothing but nostalgic and bitter.

First, take 2002's The Changing of Times. Vocalist Dallas Taylor screamed and howled with a belly full of air, pushing out a raspy cry over 10 tracks of drop-D tuning, harmonic, whirling guitar, and fast, mind-blowingly complex drum beats. "When The Sun Sleeps," an uplifting metal ballad over spacey-interference synth, propelled the bunch and set the tone for a much-anticipated follow-up. The experience takes some getting used to, though, since Taylor can be a lot to swallow.

Fast-forward two years to They're Only Chasing Safety and ... wait, who is that? Oh, right. Dallas Taylor was kicked out. Google is a bit hazy on the details, but rumors have it drugs were involved, and that's never a good omen for a Christian band. Enter vocalist Spencer Chamberlain: a small man with a voice that pretty much made everyone forget about Taylor.

[Fret not, however. Taylor took his abilities and created Maylene and the Sons of Disaster -- a Southern-metal band that fuses a spoonful of Skynyrd with enough testosterone to kill a yeti.]

They're Only Chasing Safety marked the beginning of Underoath as it's respected today. The only remaining original member, drummer Aaron Gillespie (who looks oddly similar to Brett Dennen, but less pig-like and with tighter pants), provided the clean vocals and mesmerizing drums, and along with Chamberlain, the duo created a band that dabbled more than ever in breakdowns, ripping vocals, and a healthy dose of pretty-meets-beastly. Between "A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White" and "Young and Aspiring," Safety became a staple for hardcore enthusiasts.

Define The Great Line picked up in 2006 where the bonus tracks for Safety left off. The record is more spastic and heavier in nature, with Chamberlain whipping out deeper growls instead of his more typical high screams. This was again complimented by the clean vocals of Gillespie, but felt a tad more forced than genuine: what Safety gained in originality, Define The Great Line lost in exploration.

In the span of three albums, Underoath grew from dirty, raspy metal to finely tuned, organic hardcore to heavy, dissonant spaz-metal. Evolution is natural: bands grow up, mature and call it quits. Gillespie stuck around for another effort -- 2008's Lost in the Sound of Separation -- though his leaving took with him the title of the only remaining original member of Underoath.

Play Your Old Stuff is a tongue-in-cheek way of acknowledging the cries from fans to hear singles like "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door" from Safety or "In Regards to Myself" from Line, but who is really benefiting from its release? The songs cannot be replicated. Chamberlain, though stunning, doesn't have the angst or danger to pull off Taylor ... and I'd hate to be the guy who took Gillespie's spot.

Gillespie has held his own as the frontman of alternative rock band The Almost, and Taylor still appears regularly on Warped Tour with Maylene -- but the Underoath that shows up onstage isn't the Underoath that will drive the sales of Play Your Old Stuff.

These 31 songs are but a shadow of where Underoath stands now -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The band has grown in depth and breadth, reaching its arms out to areas of heavier metal it had yet to explore. It's creating a new identity, one removed from any inkling Taylor left and anything that could be misconstrued as "soft" or "pretty" (sorry, Gillespie). So while its name hasn't changed, the rest has.

Play Your Old Stuff represents a band that is in another chapter of its career -- this album, though merely a re-release, is like staring at a door that has already been closed.

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