Define the Great Line
|Define the Great Line|
|Studio album by Underoath|
|Released||June 20, 2006|
|Recorded||January–March 2006 at Zing Recording Studios, Westfield, MA; Glow in the Dark, Atlanta, GA|
|Genre||Christian metal, CCM, metalcore, post-metal, ambient, post-hardcore|
|Label||Tooth & Nail|
|Producer||Matt Goldman, Adam Dutkiewicz, and Underoath|
|Special Edition cover|
Cover for the Special Edition of Define the Great Line, which includes a bonus DVD.
|Singles from Define the Great Line|
Define the Great Line is the fifth album by American metalcore band Underoath. The album was released in the United States on June 20, 2006, along with a limited edition version containing exclusive artwork and DVD. For the recording of this album, Underoath's usual producer, James Paul Wisner, was replaced by Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage and Matt Goldman. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 charts selling over 98,000 copies in its first week, and within a week of its release it became the highest charting Christian album on the Billboard 200 since 1997.
Musical and lyrical themes
The title of the album, according to keyboardist Christopher Dudley, comes from "defining that line for yourself between becoming the man or the woman that you want to be and the man or the woman other people want you to be." Alternative Press used the title as an example of how on this album Underoath seemed "acutely aware of the line that separates their spiritual core from the painful reality of being human," and how "even successful musicians need help staying on the right side of that line."
Unlike They're Only Chasing Safety, Define the Great Line was written by both Spencer Chamberlain (vocals) and Aaron Gillespie (drums). Alternative Press noted Chamberlain's lyrical presence, saying that "between Chamberlain's deeply troubled writing and drummer/singer Aaron Gillespie's, Define sounds like a group-therapy session put to tape."
For its lyrics the band maintained its focus on Christianity and personal struggles, and according to Josh Taylor of Jesus Freak Hideout the big difference was "the frequency at which God is addressed by name," though all of these mentions were in "exclamations of desperation." The main lyrical themes of the album expressed pain, weariness, and frustration, "but not without the awareness that things need to change." These themes were praised by Allmusic, which stated that "while Underoath explore their faith with both reverence and suspicion, something that sets them apart from the polarizing righteousness of many CCM acts, their crossover potential remains huge, as the prevailing themes of isolation, anger, introspection, and the quest for self-confidence are universal." According to the band the lyrics are "deeply personal" to Chamberlain and relate to things in his life 'that have molded him into the person he is today.'
Define the Great Line abandoned the pop choruses of the They're Only Chasing Safety and instead demonstrated a heavier and more eclectic style, with Andrew Hartwig of Sputnikmusic noting that "fans of the catchy post-hardcore of They're Only Chasing Safety expecting more of the same will undoubtedly disappointed by Underoath's sixth release." The band themselves said that the heavier style was "nothing super intentional, they [the songs] just came out that way when we went to write."
Define the Great Line was noted as a turning point for Underoath, with Allmusic commenting that "while the tendency to dissolve into the abyss of angtsy emo-pop was still there," there was a "darkness lurking in the nooks and crannies between the crackling snare hits and heavy 'drop-d' riffing" that would be fully realized on the follow up release, Lost in the Sound of Separation. Alternative Press mentioned that the band had updated its "early, brutal style with weird time changes and post-metal ambience," and Andrew Hartwig commented that "vicious drumming, heavy and chugging guitar riffs, ambient electronics and post-metal melodies dominate what has been described by the band members as the best album they will ever be involved with." According to Hartwig, the biggest improvement for the band was its use of vocals, with Spencer Chamberlain using a wide variety of vocal techniques, including "vicious screaming, growling, yelling, shouting, shrieking and much improved singing while very rarely sounding whiney or annoying," and joined in by Aaron Gillespie on duets scattered throughout the album. Another major improvement, according to Hartwig, was the overall musicianship of the band, demonstrated by use of technical riffing, constant tempo changes, and "very impressive" drumming.
Andrew Hartwig of Sputnikmusic noted that while the album is basically a modern metalcore recording in the vein of Norma Jean or Botch, "other influences creep in all throughout, such as the slow, sludgy post-metal with soaring guitar leads, extremely similar to Cult of Luna or Isis that appears in quite a few of the album's tracks, or the ambient electronica of Salmarnir that includes a recitation of part of Psalm 50 in Russian." Cross Rhythms described the album as "an impressively versatile project where metal riffs and emo breakdowns, screamo noise and memorable hooks collide in a veritable sonic feast," and Allmusic described the band as finding the "delicate middle ground between throat-shredding grindcore and My Chemical Romance/From Autumn to Ashes-style emo-punk."
|Drowned in Sound||5/10|
|Jesus Freak Hideout|||
|HM Magazine||"nearly perfect"|
Define the Great Line received universal acclaim from critics. Tony Cummings of Cross Rhythms said the release was Underoath's big breakthrough into the mainstream, and Jesus Freak Hideout called the album "the most anticipated release of the year." HM Magazine called the album "nearly perfect," and an Alternative Press review gave the album a full five stars, putting forward Gillespie as "the beautiful melodic counterpart to Chamberlain's crushing heaviness," and when discussing the band's style said "call it focused aggression if you want; 'vision' works just as well." Allmusic gave the album three-point-five out of five stars and described Define the Great Line as a "mammoth production that exemplifies how far Christian metal has come since the days of Stryper and Bloodgood," and called it "blistering and occasionally majestic." Andrew Hartwig of Sputnikmusic scored the album at four out of five and stated that though earlier fans of Underoath as well as fans of the previous album might be disappointed by the release, Define the Great Line was the band's "strongest release to date." Both Jesus Freak Hideout and Tony Cummings of Cross Rhythms called the album the best hardcore album of the year, with Jesus Freak Hideout giving the album four-point-five out of five stars and Tony Cummings rating the album a full ten-out-of-ten squares.
The album sold very well and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling over 98,000 copies in its first week. On November 11, 2006 the album was certified gold by the RIAA, confirming the sale of over 500,000 copies. The album's lead single "Writing on the Walls" was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.
|1.||"In Regards to Myself"||3:24|
|2.||"A Moment Suspended in Time"||3:59|
|3.||"There Could Be Nothing After This"||3:26|
|4.||"You're Ever So Inviting"||4:13|
|6.||"Returning Empty Handed"||4:27|
|7.||"Casting Such a Thin Shadow"||6:14|
|8.||"Moving for the Sake of Motion"||3:15|
|9.||"Writing on the Walls"||4:02|
|10.||"Everyone Looks So Good from Here"||2:56|
|11.||"To Whom It May Concern"||7:02|
The song "Sálmarnir" contains Psalm 50, verses 1 to 6. The title itself is the Icelandic word for "psalms," though the Bible passage in the song is recited in Russian.
- Grant Brandell – bass guitar
- Spencer Chamberlain – lead vocals, additional guitars
- Christopher Dudley – keyboard, synthesizers
- Aaron Gillespie – drums, clean vocals
- Timothy McTague – lead guitar, backing vocals
- James Smith – rhythm guitar
- Produced by Matt Goldman, Adam Dutkiewicz, and Underoath
- Mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, at Unique Recording Studios, New York
- Mastered by Tom Baker
- Photography by Jeff Gros
- All lyrics written by Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie
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