Underoath - Voyeurist (Cover Artwork)


Voyeurist (2022)

Fearless Records

Underoath is not a band I’ve thought about in a long time. When I think back to them now, what usually comes up is their semi-feud with Fat Mike and NOFX on a Warped Tour many years ago. Do you remember the dinosaur t-shirt Underoath put out of Fat Mike? That was pretty classic and showed they have a sense of humor. But after a rather enjoyable set at Furnace Fest last fall - part nostalgia, part last set of the day post all day festival drinking - they came back on my radar. This coincided with an announced headline tour with Every Time I Die (now dropped; R.I.P.) both in support of new albums that I planned to attend on account of Every Time I Die. I figured I’d check back in with Underoath and their new album Voyeurist and see what they were offering.

I was pleasantly surprised. What I remember from Underoath was the more pop-screamo effort of They’re Only Chasing Safety and then a return to more metalcore influence with Define The Great Line. Not totally sure what came after that but Voyeurist definitely falls on the heavier side but with an expanded use of atmospherics and some of the nu-metal flare that is all the rage these days with the kids. Cue my own dinosaur shirt here. The album opens up with “Damn Excuses.” Feels like the type of grab for radio play with it’s expletive laden refrain where singer Spencer Chamberlain “fuck your relevation / and fuck your weak convinction / I am finally exposing the truth.” It was catchy enough and no one can ever deny a well placed ‘fuck’ in a live setting.

What really caught my attention on this album though was the programming and electronics from Christopher Dudley. Midway point on the album “Thorn” uses a harrowing keyboard line to underscore splashes of distorted drums phased out over the dual vocals of Chamberlin and co-vocalist and drummer Aaron Gillespie. It’s the type of depth that adds more layers to some of the more traditionally pop interspersed with metalcore the band is (used to be?) known for. “I’m Pretty Sure I’m Out Of Luck and Have No Friends” is another good example of how the programming works to this dynamic’s favor allowing a soft keyboard laden pop song to transition seamlessly into a huge metal breakdown.

This isn’t to say that it works all the time though. It seems to mostly falter when the band are shooting for a more mainstream appeal. “Hallelujah” is where the band leans most into the aforementioned nu-metal tendencies with its semi-industrial booms throughout which come across sounding like Sleigh Bells is playing in the background on them. The heaviness of “We’re All Gonna Die” saves this dynamic, but the lyrics of fake fucking friends comes across as a bit schticky for dudes around 40. But they absolutely do work in making this a full listen from front to back and when they do transition into heavy guttural attacks on the guitar front. All together this sounds like a bit more accessible version of Code Orange. “Numb” is the most appealing version of this description.

Voyeurist is probably not for everyone. I don’t think this is changing anyone’s opinion on Underoath and at this point the band doesn’t need to. They have a well established fan base as evidenced by everyone singing along at Furnace Fest without regard. However, I did enjoy the listen so much that when I found a brand new vinyl of Voyeurist at the local shop that was weirdly deeply discounted in the used section the week it was released, I picked it up. But that might have more to do with my album buying addiction than the album itself. Either way.