I would like to spare my publication any types of hate tweets or memes, so I take full responsibility of the list below. Upon the imminent reunion tour of a band called Underoath, I started wracking my brain to pinpoint my top songs by the band. I narrowed my focus a bit on the Spencer Chamberlain era, so we are talking 2004’s They’re Only Chasing Safety and on. Now, these songs are in no particular order and no Underoath song or member was harmed while picking these songs. The reason why I chose this era is, personally, this was the period where the band resonated with me the most.
Here we go:
1) “Catch Myself Catching Myself” – If you remember, the band initally put out the lyrics only for this song, and fans had to guess how to sing them with the backing track. Disambiguation was the first album without Aaron Gillespie, and while I loved their previous material, I was very interested to see what a Spencer-led Underoath album would entail. “Catch Myself Catching Myself” was the first song in that album where I took a breath and thought, “Underoath is turning a corner”. Chamberlain showed that not only could he continue the harsh vocals, but also add some clean vocal chops. There’s a part in the song towards the end of the bridge where the music drops out and Spencer sings with Tim McTague and James Smith’s guitar playing as a backdrop, coupled with Grant Brandell’s bass, that’s a beautiful calm before the harshness comes in. It’s reminiscent of the intricacies that made me love Underoath’s music in the first place.
2) “Reinventing Your Exit” – This song was one of the first songs that really got me into the band. My first real encounter with Underoath was “When The Sun Sleeps,” but I feel like I would really consider this my real starting point. This isn’t your typical “metalcore” song, or what they would consider metalcore at that time. It’s one of the songs I chose that features Gillespie as the lead, and there’s some cool electronic undercurrents by Christopher Dudley, who I always felt is one of the unsung heroes of the band itself.
3) “Returning Empty Handed” – Coming off the instrumental song, “Sálmarnir”, which almost separates Define The Great Line into two parts, “Returning Empty Handed” is one of the most relentless songs off the album and one of the first tracks that solely features Spencer. There’s a part in the bridge where Aaron sings a few lyrics, but it’s mostly just Spencer. Still, Aaron picks it up percussion-wise, acting as the conductor in the symphony of this high-energy track. And that outro – good lord man. I remember rewinding it a few times because it’s just as huge and emboldened as it wants to be. I feel like Define The Great Line really started to show the musical tenacity of Underoath.
4) “To Whom It May Concern” – The last track in Define The Great Line perfectly sums up the album and is a good lead into the next record, Lost In The Sounds Of Separation. The title of the track is powerful because the overall song has a empowering message and it’s a very “take this if you need it” like tone. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes where it lists words like happiness, smiles, etc and it says “take one”. It took me listening to both albums back-to-back to really connect those pieces.
The song starts on a somber note, with guitars, percussion and piano that build up throughout the song. Aaron’s voice almost acts like an echo against the screaming inner voice of Spencer. One thing that Underoath has down is pacing. They know how to make you anticipate a song up to its apex. This was a perfect ending to Define The Great Line.
5) “A Fault Line, a Fault of Mine” – This is such a heavy song – musically and content-wise. For me, this is the pinnacle of Aaron and Spencer’s shared vocal musicianship. Most of the premise of Lost in the Sound of Separation is Chamberlain’s struggle with drugs and the turmoil that it involves, and there’s a call and react between Gillespie and Chamberlain that serves as internal dialogue of the struggle. Even the music has this “losing it” vibe to it. The dueling guitars of McTague and Smith almost weave in and out of each other in a way that displays the uncertainty that was surely going on with the band and Chamberlain at time. Every Underoath fan has “that moment” where everything clicks. In this particular song, that’s where I felt it.