Release Date: January 14, 2022 Genre: Post-Hardcore, Metalcore, Progressive Rock Label: Fearless Records Underoath -the Tampa, Florida post-hardcore and alternative rock sextet- have been releasing music for nearly twenty-three years, and arguably, the six-piece outfit is revered as one of the biggest juggernauts under the Christian metal umbrella. However, while still being a giant in the heavy music scene, in recent years, starting with their previous album, Erase Me (2018) and now again with their latest offering Voyeurist, the band has been distancing themselves from both Christianity and the genre. Voyeurist is the band's ninth full-length album, second with Fearless Records, and recorded at guitarist Tim McTague's Florida-based studio Feral Sound. Additionally, it marks their first entirely self-produced record to date -leaving all creative choices in their own hands. As most bands do over time, Underoath return with yet another evolved and matured sound on Voyeurist. After eight other albums under their belt and with very little change to their sound over the bulk of their career, the band turned the tides on their comeback album, Erase Me, by leaving most of the heavy behind and experimented with a hard rock and alternative rock sound. On Voyeurist, the sextet once again builds upon their newfound sound by leaving no stone unturned creatively by furthering their experimentation, incorporating fresh ideas and sounds, and finally, revisiting their heavy roots. All of it results in a massive, refreshing clash of metalcore, post-hardcore, progressive rock, and various electronic elements.
Voyeurist's opener, "Damn Excuses," is prominently one of the album's heaviest tracks and sadly the shortest songs on the record. Nonetheless, the remaining nine songs are a whirlwind ride of newfound artistic expression, and if you're here for more heavy, you'll be pleased. Followed up by the jarring and ever so haunting track, "Hallelujah," the band remain heavy and expel anger. While the album's third track, "I'm Pretty Sure I'm Out of Luck and Have No Friends," Underoath displays their progressive side without ease. For the most part, the track is atmospheric, brooding, and mostly instrumental. Once the track's breakdown hits, it explodes with the force of a dying star and transforms into a surprisingly massive post-hardcore piece. The single, "Cycle," is the sole track on Voyeurist to have an artist feature. The song features the trap metal/hip-hop artist Ghostemane, so for the first time, Underoath incorporates a sprinkle of hip-hop into their music. Maybe it's something the band will revisit in the future?
Unlike the first half of the record, it's more experimental and not the same type of heavy. The seventh and eighth tracks, "Take A Breath" and "We're All Gonna Die," feature an uncanny resemblance to a few songs featured on their 2008 and 2010 released albums, Lost in the Sound of Separation or Ø (Disambiguation). If you were to place one of the two tracks on either of those two records, they would fit the band's sound during that period of their career perfectly. "We're All Gonna Die" is one of the catchiest tracks on Voyeurist with vocalist Spencer Chamberlain's raspy clean vocals and punchy guitars. "Numb" pushes the band once again. It's bold, fresh, but within it is some lingering nostalgia -just like the previous two mentioned tracks. On "Numb," the band leans into electronic elements and pulls it off well. However, back to the nostalgic aspects of the tune, it feels like another track on the album where musically, they would fit perfectly on one of their previous albums, They're Only Chasing Safety (2004), or even Define the Great Line (2006). Voyeurist culminates with the album's most progressive track, "Pneumonia." The song clocks in at a massive seven minutes and twelve seconds -the longest track the band has ever put out. Furthermore, "Pneumonia" does not feel its length in any way. Underoath allows "Pneumonia" to breathe over its seven minutes, resulting in a diverse, atmospheric, and spacey sounding musical number that was pretty unheard of from Underoath. The track -partially inspired by the passing of McTague's father- was later released by the band as the album's third single, a year to the day he sadly passed away. Again, while atmospheric and spacey, the track is given ample time to take shape until approximately the track's remaining two minutes. It's then where the song turns everything during its first five minutes into an explosion of musical expression, giving Voyeurist a colossal send-off it deserves. It's without surprise Underoath is here to stay. The sextet is, as aforementioned, nearly twenty-three years into a rich and fulfilling career, and without a doubt, the band's best years are still ahead of them. Underoath has found a way to embrace maturity while straying too far off course with their metalcore/post-hardcore roots. They managed to pull it off on Erase Me but doubled back and smashed any barrier that they might've had in front of them. Voyeurist is the proof the band's six members can be entrusted with every ounce of creative power placed into their hands. Without any hesitation, the band can collectively deliver versatile tunes by incorporating any style or influence into their music and effectively finding a way to make it work. Make sure to pre-order or pre-save the album here and make sure to check out Underoath on tour in a city near you in the coming weeks and months.