Sound of the Underworld. Tonight Alive return with their much anticipated fifth studio album.
Tonight Alive are one of those bands that have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the auditory food chain. Having been around for a few years now, there is no denying that they are on the path to being titans of the alternative music scene. I hear rave reviews about their live performances so It’s understandable that they would have been keen to release some more killer music to add to their live sets. Their unique sound sets them apart from bands of a similar calibre, and so, with the announcement of the release of their fifth studio album, Underworld, I was very intrigued to see how the band has grown since their previous release in 2016.
The Book of Love commences in a very atmospheric fashion, intensified by the arrival of Jenna McDougall’s vocals. They are without a doubt a huge stand-out factor of the band’s widely popular sound. The song marauds through a series of lyrics which accelerate in tandem with her voice. As the chorus hits, the vocals dance through a plethora of high notes which are certainly to be admired. The breakdown provides us with the customary ‘beefy’ element of the band and the song tails off nicely. This track is the perfect opener, it is different and captivated me to listen on.
Temple arrives with a punch of guitars. The lyrics explain the bands “intoxication” of “depression”, as a stickler for pain and darkness I was happy to pick up the motifs of the album from the opening tracks. The chorus of this one is catchy, it would not be out of place in an alternative music club night. I could see myself appreciating this song even more highly after a few bevs. The vocals become spoken, as the guitars crash the song into a breakdown and the track bounces to its conclusion. For sure, this is one of my favourite tracks from the album.
The blueprint is changed for Disappear. Not only does this track contain the first feature of the album, but it also changes the energy of the record. It acts as a moment of reflection. The vocals of Lynn Gunn slide effortlessly in-between those of McDougall which warrants an enjoyable listen. However, I feel as though it is a shame that the band are not doing enough on this track. There is immense potential in this song, but I can’t help but feel that other than vocally, this track is rather safe. In a similar fashion, the atmospheric sounding, synth-driven intro to The Other feels very overused by this point in the album. I cannot help but feel that even four songs in, I struggle to differentiate between them. Despite this, the energy is once again unrelenting and has to be commended.
A highlight of the album is Waiting For The End. It is eerie, suspense-fuelled and the cries for the “sleeping souls” to “wake up” has stuck in my mind since hearing it. Again, it showcases the band’s ability to touch on the darker side of life, something that is hard to do well. Luckily for Tonight Alive, this track cements my earlier claims that they definitely know what they are doing.
Undoubtedly, the biggest moment of this album has to be its conclusion, My Underworld. There are very few vocalists that could rival and potentially over-shadow the ability of McDougall. However, the feature from Corey Taylor achieves exactly that. The man is nothing short of a legend. His notoriety is one of immense stature and his feature on this track is just as special – a testament to how much Tonight Alive have grown. The smooth, powerful tones of his voice balance perfectly with the delicate voice of McDougall. It works perfectly and reminds me of the immense ability of Taylor demonstrated in Stone Sour. If I was to recommend a track off of this album it would be this one.
Overall, I think this album has its instances of excellence. Frustratingly, other than the tracks I have mentioned I struggle to recall the stand-out moments of the other songs. It is clear to see that by this stage of their career, the band are seasoned pros. Every song is nicely finished, and the attention to detail is there. I just wish they would have stepped outside the box a little more with some of these tracks. I know it is easy for me, sitting at my laptop in drizzly Norwich, however, I only make this observation as a big fan of the band’s musical ability. That being said, Underworld is a good album. It is a solid release, but I can’t help but feel that this album is missing it’s ‘HOLY FUCK’ moment. Give it a listen.