LP Review; Tonight Alive: “Underworld”

“Book of Love” starts with a rapid melodic line found in the instrumental section paired with electronics. This melodic idea sounds similar to the twinkling of a light, and it is quickly joined by faint vocals that sound as if they are found in the distance. As the song progresses forward, the percussion section adds in additional heavier hits to make the pulse more apparent to the audience, which helps to establish the first steady groove of the album. Once the groove is created, the main vocals enter with a melodic idea that remains rather static, speaking in terms of range; however, the tone of the vocalist resonates with the listeners, for it has an edgier frame to them, which gives the song more dimension. Overall, this is a strong first selection for the album, for it gives the audience a song that packs a punch as well as a selection that has a cooler sound to it, which will make them want to keep listening.

 “Temple” starts with a heavy guitar riff that is paired with similar weighted percussion phrases as the previous track. The instrumental feature is soon joined by the lead vocals. The vocals in this work, differing from the first track, span a huge range, which helps to add drama to the selection and gives the work more contrast overall. As the song pushes forward, the sound of the work seems to be leaning more towards the rock genre of music while still toying with the alternative vibe. This is strong for the artist because it gives their listeners more variety, musically speaking, but it also shows them what else the band can do. Towards the end of the selection, the band toys with homorhythmic instrumental to vocal passages, which provides an ornate contextual sound when paired with the adding and subtracting of instrumentals.

 “Disappear” features Lynn Gunn and starts with a single hit from the percussion section before the whole instrumental ensemble comes in swinging with unique melodic material. Once the vocalist enters, the instrumental section decreases in texture and volume to allow the vocals to shine. The lyrics of this song are simple, yet they are incredibly memorable, which will help this track to stick in the minds of the listeners. As the song approaches the middle, it is heard that the instrumental material remains rather static; however, it lays a nice foundation for the memorable vocal material. Towards the end of the work, the band drops in instrumentation to slowly build back to the heightened chorus to finish out the track. This is a foreseen favorite of the album, for it is overly pleasing to the ear, and it features another well-known artist in the scene.

 “The Other” starts with a small electronic semi-tone that slowly evolves into the lead vocals of the track. These vocals first appear as if they are in the distance, and they mimic the growth of the semi-tone, which helps to build musical tension as they evolve to produce a heightened chorus. The instrumental material for this track is quite minimal, for the band toys with isolated vocals often, and this work seems to focus more on the percussion section, who drives the newer groove continuously. The middle of this work includes a similar section as the previous tracks where the band drops down to allow the vocals to shine; however, instead of slamming back into the chorus, the band first allows the instrumental section to shine by including a small instrumental feature before then arriving back at the chorus to finish the work.

“In My Dreams” starts with vocals from the very first beat of the work. These vocals are backed by a heavy motive found in the percussion section and repetitive melodic ideas in the strings. The vocals of this work start with a tad more edge to them and as the song progresses, they flatten out, which provides musical variety and relief to the audience. The groove that is set at the beginning of the work through the percussion section is primarily seen throughout each verse, which is strong for the artist because it helps to keep the song leaning forward. In the middle of the work, the band switches to a half-time feel as a pre-recorder vocal part is recited before the band returns to the characteristic mood of the work.

 “For You” starts with an instrumental feature that focus on a melodic idea that revolves, to the ear, in a circle. When the vocals enter, it is notable that these are sung with a more relaxed intent, for most of the pitches fall in the comfort, middle range of the vocalist. As the track pushes forward, it is heard that there is minimal instrumental action, which isn’t surprising, for the lyrics of this selection lean towards the heartfelt emotions; thus, by providing the audience with a softer vocal part paired with slight musical ideas, the band gives their audience the opportunity to really listen and internalize the lyrics of the work. As the track moves forward, the instrumental section picks up and pulls back depending on what lyrics were being featured at that point. This is a nice addition to the album, for it gives the audience a slower song to empathize with, but the song isn’t overly dull, so that they would still be interested.

 “Crack My Heart” starts with another semi-tone that quickly shifts to a repetitive scaler melodic line that is quickly joined by the vocals. The vocals that enter immediately set the tone of the work, for they come in full force; however, as the song pushes forward, the band shifts within the vocal world to provide different timbres to the audience, which adds variety to the album overall. Throughout the selection, the percussion establishes this motive that consists of three heavy hits with moments of silence spaced throughout, this helps to create a unique groove for the work. As the band reaches the end of the song, the band provides a melodic breakdown based off this percussive motive. This is strong for the band, for it provides something completely new to the listeners, which will make this a foreseen favorite of the album.

 “Just For Now” starts with another instrumental interlude that fluctuates with major and minor tonalities, which provides color to the album. As that rapid melodic line repeats, the percussion section enters in with their characteristic groove that has been steady throughout the album. Once the vocals enter, the song hits the ground running with small fall backs to allow for music dimension. Throughout the work, the band toys with the vibe of the overall work by shifting from a steady quicker pulse, and a pulse that leans towards the half-time feel without crossing that line. This is strong for the artist because the song is already super pleasing to the ear, but this addition helps to elevate the work even more. Towards the end of the selection, the band includes another melodic breakdown ran by the weighted hits in the percussion section mixed with the heightened vocals of previously stated material, which helps to drive this song to a climactic end.

“Burning On” starts with another repetitive melodic motive held in the instrumental section, which remains dormant until the first round of vocals enter. When the vocals enter, the strings fall to a dimmer dynamic as the percussive section provides a small grove that complements the simple vocal line. As the band moves towards the chorus, it is noticeable that this selection is quite as memorable as most of the previous tracks on the album. The lyrics of this song are overly empathetic to just about any audience member, and the band is able to allow these lyrics to shine with minimal instrumentation paired with a fluctuation of instrumental texture. Towards the end of the work, the band allows the instrumentation to drop out completely to allow the vocals to shine for a moment by themselves before everything comes crashing back in to finish out the track.

 “Waiting For the End” starts with a small instrumental interlude that gives the audience the illusion of a song with a mixture of alternative and pop genre influences. The vocals that enter in after the instrumental feature had time to simmer, remains fixed throughout the first verse as well as the chorus. The vocals ride in the vocalist’s middle range, and they stay in the realm of the same dynamic throughout the work. This isn’t necessarily a bad tactic for the band; however, this doesn’t help to heighten a track that is already less exciting than the previous selections on the album. As the work pushes towards the end, the instrumental section picks up briefly, which wakes the audience slightly, but it quickly fades back to the characteristic sound of the track; thus, making this one of the lesser selections that the band offers, in terms of excitement.

 “Last Light” starts with a very faint semi-tone that morphs slowly as it passes its focus to the lead vocals. The vocals that enter startle the audience in the best way, for the are boldly endearing, and they sit in the perfect range to produce a sweeter tone. As the band reaches the first run of the chorus, it is noticeable that this track will likely be as smooth and relaxed like some of the previous works. This isn’t a bad thing for the band, but the audience may crave an energetic track at this point. As the band pushes towards the end, the percussion sections become slightly more prominent, which provides a slight groove to the audience. Once the percussion adds in, the band rides that new groove to the end while playing with the adding and subtracting of their already minimal instrumentation.

 “Looking for Heaven” starts with an instrumental feature that places focus on a piano melodic line that is soon joined in by the vocalist. The vocals that are presented provide the audience with a nice vocal contour that glides nicely overtop the small piano motive. As the work pushes towards the chorus, it is seen that this track will likely remain with just the vocalist and the piano. This is strong for the band because they are giving their audience a simple but beautiful ballad that obtains relatable yet heartfelt lyrics. In order to keep the listeners intrigued, the band shifts back-and-forth through different dynamic levels as well as key changes.

 “My Underworld” features Corey Taylor and starts with a cluster of semi-tones that sit settled before the first vocals of the track enter in. The vocals start rather steady, but as the first verse evolves, the vocalist shifts throughout her range to add musical dimension to the track. Once the band hits the chorus, the full ensemble joins in, and that is where a faint groove is then established. The second verse is driven by the featured artist, which helps to keep the audience interested, for his voice is a new timbre for the band and the album. From the second verse and onward, the instrumental section begins to have a slightly bigger role. This is strong for the band, for it gives them the opportunity to grow until they provide a small section where just the two voices are featured. After that small vocal moment, the band provides a grand pause before falling back to the original vibe of the song. This is a smart selection to close the album with because it embodies all the techniques the band utilized throughout the album, it is one of the more memorable tracks, and it features another very well-known artist.

 Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 4 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score, for the band provides an album that, at its core, is rock solid. The album is catchy, it provides interesting melodic material, and it toys with different genres. This album, however, doesn’t make me want to go out and listen to it constantly, but it does provide the audience with music that they would enjoy if it were to come on. Furthermore, if you are looking for an album that you can easily sing along to here and there, this is the album for you. Good work!

*”Underworld” was released on January 12, 2018 through Hopeless Records.

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