ALBUM REVIEW: ‘Underworld’ by Tonight Alive

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Underworld by Tonight Alive out January 12th 2018
Pre-release stream provided by agency
Words by Ellie Carter

Tonight Alive stuns the music scene again.

The band’s 4th studio album, Underworld, is a well put-together piece of art. The music is simultaneously new and refreshing whilst throwing back to the older days of Tonight Alive. ‘The album is called Underworld, and I named it that because it reflects the ugly parts of me that I wasn’t ready to see until now.’ Jenna McDougall, vocalist, says of the album title, and rings true as the album tackles some hard hitting topics for McDougall and the rest of the band.

The lyrics cover a lot about identity, relationships and acceptance of who we are. Looking at these themes from a viewpoint of positivity, the album can be interpreted as a journey of self discovery and acceptance, going through the ups and downs of life. The opener ‘Book Of Love’ starts the album off the right way, with a bang, including amazing vocals by McDougall, backed up by the talented band members Jake Hardy, Cameron Adler and Matt Best.

The next track, and the first single from the album, ‘Temple’, dives into the main feel of Underworld, which is said to ‘Musically symbolise the totality of the band’s life coming full circle after experiencing their highest highs and lowest lows.’ The lyrics of ‘Temple’ are ‘born out of a time when McDougall was experiencing severe depression and fatigue, the lyrics for this super-charged and energetic track were penned when she was entrapped […] sick in her mind, body and soul.’

This is followed by ‘Disappear’, the third and most catchy song, featuring Lynn Gunn from the band PVRIS, which follows on into ‘The Other’. This track covers the topic of identity, with lyrics like ‘dancing with demons’ and ‘I won’t apologise for who I am.’ The chorus, ‘I am the other […] We are the others’, shows McDougall talking directly to the listener, telling them that it’s okay to be The Others.

Delving deeper into the album, ‘In My Dreams’ talks more about identity and starts to dive into relationships, the themes which flow into ‘For You And Crack My Heart’. Both tacks have incredible vocals from McDougall, along with cohesive instrumentals from guitarist Hardy, bassist Adler and drummer Best – fantastic individual performances from each – while maintaining the unity that a band needs to sound good.

“McDougall hits the nail on the head as she sings about not just waiting for the end but living life to the full and fighting for something”

‘Just For Now’ explores more of the self-discovery, with strong vocals as always, and an incredible performance from bassist Adler. The 9th track, ‘Burning On’, is strong in the instrumentation half – the guitar from Hardy is spot on – however the incredible performances from the rest of the band somewhat overshadow the lacking lyrical content. Hardy, Adler and Best are definitely able to show off their talent in ‘Burning On’ more than other tracks on the album.

tonight alive album 

‘Waiting For The End’ is one of the strongest songs lyrically, and not just because it follows ‘Burning On’. McDougall hits the nail on the head as she sings about not just waiting for the end but living life to the full and fighting for something. ‘Waiting For The End’ is a powerful and passionate song, backed up by enthusiastic and equally powerful drums from Best.

‘Last Night’ and ‘Looking For Heaven’ are placed at the best point they could be within the album, with ‘Looking For Heaven’ acting almost as an interlude with piano instrumental instead of guitar. But at the same time the two tracks build towards the end of the album, ‘My Underworld’.

“The entire album, Underworld, feels like a step back to why Australian rock music draws so many people in the first place”

Ending just the way it started, with a bang, the title track ‘My Underworld’ includes fantastic vocals by McDougall’s, and a shiver inducing guitar riff by Hardy. The drums feel like a heartbeat, an excellent performance from Best, keeping the song steady. The song is soft to start with, but when the chorus hits everything comes together and making the listener feel full. In the second half of the song, Corey Taylor adds depth and harmonies, and the song feels like coming home.

The entire album, Underworld, feels like a step back to why Australian rock music draws so many people in the first place; clever guitar, meaningful lyrics, basslines that make you think and drums that pull everything together.

Tonight Alive brought a fantastic album to kick-off what is expected to be a very successful 2018 for all of them.