It's hard to know where some bands' safety zones start and end. The balance between not pushing hard enough and regurgitating the same old tired lines versus trying too many different things and attempting one giant leap for musickind, is a hard one to define. You could say the perfect situation is to find this fabled 'Great Line' Underoath have based this album around. But like Bambi on ice, Underoath slide about a bit, struggling to find their balance before appearing to have the perfect mix, but ultimately falling flat on their faces.
Underoath are a hardcore band pure and simple. They're harder than most bands claiming to be hardcore bands, and they do it while maintaining a great big dollop of melody. A couple of tracks off their sophomore effort 'They're Only Chasing Safety' will no doubt go down historically as the greatest post-hardcore songs of the era. Live they were, and probably still are fantastic. The energy of a Thrice or a Thursday, with the quality of songs to match. Obviously this wasn't good enough for Underoath.
For on 'Define The Great Line' the band have experimented with multiple tracking, E-bows and more delays and effects pedals than most people have had hot dinners. It has made for a huge, heavy, multi layered sound. But gone are the melodic sensibilities that separated the band from the next lumber-headed hardcore chuggers. The electronic influences and a beautiful post-rock number ('Casting Such A Thin Shadow') half way through may throw dispersions over that theory, as Underoath do have the brains and nerve to try different things but in the end you just think why bother when the resulting record isn't as rewarding as what came before.
This should have been the record when everything came together for Underoath, the bleeding in on their debut, the soaring choruses and commercial acclaim of album number 2, and the finished article come album number three. It's just never as simple as that is it?