Since it’s conception in 1997, Christian metalcore band Underoath have been very good at being average. They may have missed out on the explosive success of their peers, such as Bring Me The Horizon or Beartooth, but they’ve been consistently supported by their monumental fanbase that has remained loyal even through the decline of the genre; no small part due to their Christian lyrics. With the release of Erase Me, their eighth studio album in a discography spanning multiple decades, fans may have predicted that Underoath would have stuck to their guns and continued to produce similar sounding music, with similar sounding lyrics and themes. They were wrong.
Instead of the typical blend of frenzied screaming and nasal singing, Underoath have made the decision to make a record that leans more towards hardcore rock. Don’t get it wrong, there is a little screaming on tracks like Bloodlust or On My Teeth, but it’s nonabrasive and lacks any punch, while the lead single Rapture was completely devoid of any vocal variation. Some readers are probably thinking by this point that it’s commendable for artists to take a new direction with their music, especially this late in a career; and it would be, if it wasn’t as equally predictable as their old music. There’s no overwhelming flaws or problems to Erase Me, the production is sharp, the performances from all members is consistent, and there isn’t any song that sticks out thematically. Equally, there’s nothing particularly compelling either, the breakdowns are formulaic and the melodies feel like recycled.
Perhaps the most notable change within Erase Me is the lyrical content. Aaron Gillespie adopts a meta, self evaluative look at his history in the band, his departure from christianity, and his drug problems. It’s an interesting topic, and makes perfect sense at this point in the bands history, but it’s let down by repetitive, mediocre writing, filled with overused metaphors about flames, sleep and breathing. Only a few tracks stand out positively, Wake Me and In Motion, mainly for their creative use of spectral, science fiction sounding sound effects, but not by much.
Despite changing their label, their genre, their lyrics and drummer, Underoath manage to sound as mundane as usual. Erase Me is a middle of the road, perfectly fine album, but there’s a wealth of other acts that do it better. The best way to explain the problems with Erase Me is that the largest reaction to it, positive or negative, has been from critics pointing out their profanity on a single track. Ouch.