Though never quite managing to get the recognition that they deserved, Underoath spent a large portion of the 2000’s throwing soft metalcore hooks at you that you’d fancy screaming from the rooftops. Never the most technically proficient, or lyrically expansive band – but Underoath possessed a certain charm in their songwriting that meant if your musical taste buds would welcome them, they’d be a band you could really fall for.
Eight years after their last album and the band have made a return after a successful reunion tour playing their two greatest albums They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define The Great Line in full demanded it. Erase Me though finds Underoath in a strange position, their Christian metalcore tropes have been openly ditched, which in the grand scheme of things does make sense; why bother coming back if you’re just going to give us a repeat of what we’ve already heard? However what replaces it is a flex of hard rock which has great difficulty blending in with the bands pre-established persona.
When you substitute out a large percentage of what originally hooked your fan-base, it’s kind of vital that what comes in can at least challenge its predecessor, and that’s what plagues Rapture more than anything else. There’s nothing that comes close to the colossal choruses of tracks like ‘Reinventing Your Exit’, ‘Writing On The Walls’ or ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’, instead we’re given a slab of hard rock-esque tones that lack identity.
‘Rapture’ and ‘Wake Me’ are almost comically bland and stale considering they’re coming from a band that previously had Olympian like energy, and the speed hardly picks up from here; the synth lead approach of ‘No Frame’ struggles to hit prominence while ‘Sink With You’ is as generic a rock song as you’d hear on day time radio.
There are moments on ‘IhateIt’ which suggest there may be potential to pursue in this new direction, with the most simplistic yet effective chorus on the record by some distance, it’s a bright spark in a record that struggles to make itself heard for a majority of its play time. Erase Me is constantly plagued by how tame it sounds as a collective work of art, even when you consider that Underoath rarely fell into the heavy side of metalcore even when they were at their peak – the record is a worrying way off almost any form of intensity.
While the decision to move into a different landscape for this new Underoath adventure is understandable, there’s an inescapable drop in quality here – the passion and scream soaked choruses have given way to something more predictable and bland. Erase Me doesn’t tear down the walls on the Underoath legacy, but you find it nearly impossible to think that this new sound will catch on with the immense competition that the band are facing from the hungry up and comers surrounding them.