Underoath "(They're Only Chasing Safety)" CD
Whether you describe this type of alternative rock as screamo, post-hardcore, or melodic hardcore, albums like They're Only Chasing Safety are all about contrasts -- heaven contrasting with hell, melody contrasting with sledgehammer brutality, "normal" singing (whatever "normal" is) contrasting with tortured, agonized, death-all-over-your-face screaming. This screamo/post-hardcore/melodic hardcore approach is quite different from full-fledged metalcore; while metalcore units like Hatebreed, Brick Bath, and Finland's notoriously ferocious Rotten Sound go right for the jugular, Underoath and similar bands prefer to mix honey with vinegar. Overall, the Tampa, FL, residents do a decent job of integrating the honey and the vinegar on They're Only Chasing Safety, which is their first album since Spencer Chamberlain replaced Dallas Taylor as lead singer. After Taylor's departure in 2003, some fans had strong reservations about Underoath carrying on without him. But Chamberlain has no problem taking over the lead vocalist spot on this 2004 release, and he seems to have a firm grasp of the sort of good cop/bad cop and heaven/hell contrasts that characterize a screamo disc like They're Only Chasing Safety. Of course, the screamo aesthetic is hardly unique to Underoath; anyone who has spent time listening to Nora, From Autumn to Ashes, Hopesfall, or School for Heroes will see the parallels between Underoath and those bands. But lyrically, one thing that separates Underoath from other screamo outfits is their Christian orientation. Not that the Floridians beat listeners over the head with Christianity -- if anything, their Christian references are subliminal on this CD, which explains why secular audiences have been receptive to them. They're Only Chasing Safety is mildly uneven -- some of the tunes hold up better than others -- but more often that not, it's a respectable outing from this post-Taylor edition of Underoath.