Underoath - Voyeurist Album Review

Are you ready for a hot take? I... am not a fan of COVID. I know, right now you're sitting there saying, "Andrew, what are you TALKING ABOUT?! COVID has made it so I know how to make bread during the upcoming climate disaster, AND I learned the very basics of a new language so I can trade as I wander the wastelands of our ruined society."

Well you absolute weirdo, I don't like having to stay inside and not see people and especially not go to concerts. Actually it's more the second part than the first, but whatever. A strange side effect for me, in what I can only assume is a vain attempt to hear a human voice that is different from the same ones I hear everyday, is that I have started listening to spoken word podcasts, mainly about horror, because the world isn't frightening enough apparently. A side effect of this side effect is that I have forgone listening to new music, so to try to combat this worrying trend, I've decided to write a review a week for an album. Might be new, might be old, whatever, I'm just going to write it, and you... will read it.

So let's start nice and easy with a new record from Tampa, Florida with a band who, I guess are now one step closer to the title of "longest running metalcore outfit" now that Every Time I Die is no more – Underoath.

Now when it comes to metalcore bands, Underoath is not my go to. In fact, I wouldn't even say they're in my top 20, but everytime a new record of theirs comes across my sightline I usually end up thoroughly enjoying it, including the comeback record after their breakup from 2018, Erase Me.

So with Voyeurist I was expecting more of the same. I mean, we're only four years after and the singles were leading me to believe this record would have the same intensity that the last record had.

And that is how it starts off with two high energy tracks in “Damn Excuses” and “Hallelujah” with the typical Underoath energy one might expect. Following these is the track of "I'm Pretty Sure I'm Out Of Luck And Have No Friends," which I suppose is named correctly because it's a long winded name for a track that breaks up the flow of the previous two entries and has no real direction. Maybe it's there as part of some narrative I'm unaware of, but if it is, maybe they should have mentioned that somewhere.

Thankfully the pace picks back up again for "Cycle" which features... I guess we're calling it "trap metal?" rapper Ghostmane, who honestly doesn't really add much to the track that you couldn't just mistake for regular lead singer Aaron Gillespie trying out a new vocal style. This is also not the only time they flirt with the idea of mixing the two genres of music, doing it slightly more successfully in "Numb," though still not the best example one could make. I mean, Enter Shikari has been melding hip hop elements with their sound on Common Dreads better and that album came out in 2009.

And when I say "flirt" I do mean that in the most rudimentary sense. There seems to be no real commitment to the idea, just a brief, "Hey there," and a wink followed by the two walking their separate ways. It almost feels like their record label suggested they try this "cool new thing the kids are liking," but as a form of protest they only half-heartedly included it, doing just enough to get whoever was directing them off their backs so they can go back to making a bunch more slower, plodding tracks.

But sadly after the fourth track on the record, the whole thing devolves into a mash of stuff that all sounds the same – vaguely aggressive but slowed down tracks that have melodic choruses and more aggressive verses over and over. As mentioned, "Numb" does break this up a bit, but not enough to save this and bring it above a mediocre standard.

I'd say the record as a whole suffers from pacing issues. For every one or two tracks of high energy songs, they follow it up with one of these slow go nowhere tracks, making it so you can't even properly get into the record as a whole before you're drawn out again. I'm not sure if they were trying for some "peaks and valleys" effect, but what it really creates is an "interest / non-interest" dichotomy that usually falls on the side of non-interest the deeper into the record you go.

So, even though Underoath is vying to remain as one of the stalwarts of metalcore, if this is what they're thinking of delivering in the future, they can join the majority of the bands on the funeral pyre, because no one is clamoring for this.