B-Mac Album Review: Underøath, Voyeurist

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

The state of Florida has produced some of the finest rock, pop and metal bands we have had the pleasure of witnessing. Orlando gave us Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC (I liked them when I was a kid, so shut up), Tallahassee produced Creed and Alter Bridge, Jacksonville provide Lynyrd Skynyrd and Shinedown, and Miami gave us some dance flavor with the Miami Sound Machine. For devout metalheads like myself, we look to Tampa and the righteous might of Underøath. This metalcore machine would give the world an excellent mixture of screamo and alternative rock to go along with their metalcore sound. Originally labelled a Christian metal group, they have since freed themselves from that description ever since reuniting in 2015. Their eighth release in 2018, Erase Me, brought them creative liberation and it was met with all around acclaim. Four years, Underøath returns for something more daring, Voyeurist. 

We begin Voyeurist with the pleasurable “Damn Excuses.” The pulsating samples played by keyboardist/synthesizer Christopher Dudley gets the heart pumping. Next thing you know, co-frontman Spencer Chamberlain causes the eardrums to explode with his screams. Timothy McTague (lead) and James Smith (rhythm) are explosive with the guitar licks, while Grant Brandell bashes away on the bass. “Hallelujah” has this sick alternative metal vibe that is laid back as well as visceral. Drummer and co-frontman Aaron Gillespie brought righteous melodic flow that goes along nicely with Chamberlain’s terrorizing screams. For me, this tune could have a double meaning: conquer the hell you live in or do not let a disease (COVID-19 possibly) bring you to madness. Either way you interpret it, this song is cathartic. “I’m Pretty Sure I’m Out of Luck and Have No Friends” has a nice, haunting piano flow Dudley performs nicely. I feel the sound is very dark wave influence. Not really my cup of tea, but I cannot deny its impact.

Between Chamberlain’s sudden scream toward the end and McTague’s eerie solo, I felt a washed with shadowy euphoria. We now approach “Cycle,” where Underøath teams up with rapper Ghostemane. This song is a tasty number that brings the group back to their heavy metal nature. Gillespie mesmerizes me with his tenacious drumming and hypnotic voice. This tune gets in your face and bitch slaps you big time. “Thorn” is a raging scream fest where Chamberlain holds nothing back. Along with Gillespie’s melancholy singing and the gripping riffs, Underøath conquers the realm of despair and loneliness, something we all are going through. So, hold on, for the thorn will be removed soon enough.

We have made to the halfway point of Voyeurist, and our voyeuristic pleasure is overloading. Now comes “(No Oasis).” Even more gentle, Gillespie hypnotizes us with a chilling voice over the ambient sound of Dudley’s synthesizer. This song gives us a breather before diving further into the record. Next up is “Take a Breath.” A straight-forward alternative rock number with a pinch of screamo. The dark lyrics bring despair to the surface, where Underøath hopes to choke it out. This is an enjoyable tune that is brash and aggressive.  “We’re All Going to Die” continues the aggression the group has been building on the whole album. While the lyrics give torment a snarling look, I wanted there to be more hope coming out of this song. However, maybe that is the point: anguish is all that is left when death comes knocking. Underøath get deep with this song. “Numb” features ominous electronics that can kick ass in a mosh pit. McTague and Smith each bring sorrow and joy on the guitar, almost making the listener feel hopeful yet numb at the same time. Chamberlain and Gillespie do stunning work on the vocals. I was captivated the whole time. Voyeurist draws to a close with “Pneumonia.” Inspired by McTague’s loss of his father (I know how that feels), this tune is very haunting yet purifying. There is pain in the lyrics, but it feels therapeutic in a sense. This seven minute closer goes through different musical cycles that showcases the band’s true talent. Even if it is not aggressive, the passion is there. This is probably their most creative tune to date.

Underøath really surprised me with Voyeurist. Though it is not a joyful sounding record, its cathartic nature hits the right spot. The despair and volatility that we have felt these past two years is released through this album, and Underøath helps set us free from it. Along with bombastic musicianship and the daring experimentation, this is a sharp album that can put the group in a new spectrum of greatness. I would like to have heard 1 or 2 songs that were more joyful, but that can be overlooked by an excellent sounding album. Tampa’s finest are more ballsy than ever, and I cannot wait to hear it live again. To Underøath, I salute you. Horns up!!!


Track Listing:

1. Damn Excuses
2. Hallelujah
3. I’m Pretty Sure I’m Out Of Luck And Have No Friends
4. Cycle
5. Thorn
6. (No Oasis)
7. Take A Breath
8. We’re All Gonna Die
9. Numb
10. Pneumonia

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