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Metal Monday: Underoath Are Underrated

What happens when a band’s best and most critically acclaimed work is a genre of music most metalheads vehemently despise, and then the band transforms their sound into something a lot more heavy, removing a large percentage of their screamo legacy? Well, if they’re anything like Underoath, they’ll become really great but still be hated by a vast majority of the metal community. In 2002 and 2004 Underoath release The Changing of Times and They’re Only Chasing Safety, respectively—two incredibly successful releases on Solid State records. Two albums that were by-in-large of the screamo/post-hardcore variety.

In 2006 everything changes. The band releases Define The Great Line, now with producer Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage, and their sound takes a drastic turn away from their more pop roots in favor of a more pure metalcore style. Still riding the wave of success from their last record, Define The Great Line helped the band solidify their place among the more abrasive side of mainstream heavy acts. The downside, however, is the fact that the stigma attached to the overly-poppy style of They’re Only Chasing Safety still applies even though their approach drastically changed. All things considered, the album received immensely positive reviews from the likes of Alternative Press, Kerrang!, HM Magazine and Sputnikmusic. The record also debuted Number 2 on the Billboard Top 200, selling nearly 100,000 copies in its first week (not too shabby at all for a heavy record).

Fast forward two more years to 2008 when the band releases yet another increasingly heavy album, Lost In The Sound of Separation. Another giant step towards a heavier sound, further distancing themselves from the stigmatic “screamo” sound. Now filled to the brim with thunderous riffs, roaring vocals and harshly contrasted guitar sounds, Underoath finally had the thing that appeals to nearly all metalheads across the board; they replaced their more angst-ridden screams with rage-filled roars. But still the metal community had not fully embraced the band as a legitimate member of the metal community, despite the heaviness and pureness of Lost In The Sound of Separation as a metalcore record. Sure, there’s a bit of cleanly sung vocals on the record, but make no mistake, the album rips for almost its entire duration.

Even with the release of Ø (Disambiguation) in 2010, a vast majority of metalheads still dislike Underoath about as much as you could, as can be seen on any single MetalSucks comment section that mentions the band and the community scores on the band’s albums at MetalStorm. Whether it’s the band’s strong Christian beliefs, their supposed generic heavy metalcore sound or any other crazy reason, metalheads just aren’t on board.

If you’re reading this and have at least a passing interest in metalcore, I implore you to give Underoath a legitimate shot. Forget about their Christian-rooted themes, or that they used to be a pretty generic death metal band with forceful Christian themes (no, that’s not a joke)—heck, picture them singing all their songs praising Satan if you have to. Their last three albums are all incredibly well produced and feature a lot of cool riffs, choruses, breakdowns, tempo changes, etc. Flush your mind of all prejudices and biases about screamo or Christian bands and check out on of the singles from their latest album, “In Division” (which has a very cool video).

Behind the Mic: The New Age of Album Promotion

Over recent years, we’ve seen major changes in the music industry. CDs are becoming digital downloads, MySpace profiles are being traded in for Twitter accounts and the number of artists available at your fingertips is growing exponentially everyday.

Because there are so many artists out there, it’s becoming tougher to stick out in the crowd and keep fans engaged. Artists have taken notice, and have ramped up their shows, music videos and album promotion.

Here are some examples of 2010′s best album promotion campaigns. From movies to puzzles to song leaks, take a tip from these rock bands and keep fans excited about your next big release!

My Chemical Romance

MCR's mysterious TV channel

When My Chemical Romance pick a theme for their record, they really commit to it. With the release of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, MCR  launched an extremely impressive promotional campaign, which fully immersed fans into the world of their record. It began with a cryptic Web site, which simply showed an antique television. The television knobs could be turned to show static or a video of a man wearing a fox suit wandering around in the desert. Some channels had noise in the background, including one that played a very static clip of the then-unreleased track “The Only Hope For Me Is You.” Over the next few weeks, more details about the album were revealed, along with a release date and rapid-fire leaks of four new tracks. When the music video for lead single “Na Na Na” was released, the fox costume mystery was solved—it had been vocalist Gerard Way all along. The band even went as far as to have a Web site set up for Better Living Industries, the fictional company that the Killjoys fight in the video, along with a series of YouTube clips (such as this) from BLI themselves.

D.R.U.G.S.

When post-hardcore poster boy Craig Owens was unceremoniously kicked out of his band Chiodos, he went straight to work. Unbeknownst to his fans, Owens began forming a supergroup and writing new music, not saying a word to anyone about what was going on. Rumors began to fly, especially when it was announced that Fall Out Boy/Black Cards member Pete Wentz was somehow involved in the project.

Craig Owens being interrogated in Part III of D.R.U.G.S' short film

Fans were anxious to learn more about this mystery band, and Owens made sure to keep them on the edge of their seats. He did this by announcing each band member one at a time through introductory YouTube videos. A few weeks after the last member was announced, he told his fans that the new band would be called Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S) and would be on Wentz’s label, Decaydance. The band, which consists of  members of Underminded, Matchbook Romance, From First to Last and Story of the Year, then released four parts of a film over the course of a few weeks. The fourth clip ends with the music video for D.R.U.G.S.’ first single, “If You Think This Song is About You, It Probably Is”. The full film is now available for free download on the band’s Web site.

Underoath

Underoath's 600 pre-order postcards came together to form their album cover

Christian metal band Underoath sent their fans on an online scavenger hunt in September, before the release of their album, Ø(disambiguation). Their official Web site became a blank puzzle board, and they encouraged fans to take a photo if they think they had a piece of the puzzle. The puzzle pieces were soon revealed to be postcards that were sent to 600 people who pre-ordered the album. Once all the pictures were uploaded, the puzzle showed the new album art. On September 21st, the band wrote on Twitter, “tracklist reveal using fb & twitter: titles will be posted one at a time, scrambled. 1st to unscramble wins shirt & unlocks next title.” Next, the band leaked a song in a very creative way—by posting different layers of instrumentation over the course of a few days, and the final product, “Illuminator” at the end.

What are some of the most creative ways you’ve seen an album promoted? Let us know in the comments!

 


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