They’re Only Chasing Safety

Underoath - They're Only Chasing Safety

It’s pretty amazing to think just how captivating Underoath were on their fourth studio album called They’re Only Chasing Safety. The album was first released on June 15, 2004 via Solid State Records and was produced by James Paul Wisner, and surprisingly enough, only had two official singles released from the set in “Reinventing Your Exit” and “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door.” The LP has since been certified Gold, and remains one of the most influential records in the emo/hardcore scene. After their third record, The Changing of Times, nearly half of the band members had changed for this “version” of the band, now considered to be the “classic” lineup. They’re Only Chasing Safety, to this day, remains an adrenaline shot to the ears with its mix of post-hardcore, emo, electronica, and punk rock. The album features a creative blend of clean/screamed vocals by Spencer Chamberlain and drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie, while the rest of the band members make their presence felt in several different spots on the record. They’re Only Chasing Safety, and their subsequent album of Define The Great Line, are consistently pointed to by fans of Underoath as their best work, and the band can look back on this 20th anniversary proudly knowing that they captured lightning in a bottle at just the right moment in time.

I first got wind of Underoath when they opened up for Coheed & Cambria on their headlining stint of dates during Coheed’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 touring cycle, and I found Underoath’s ability to grab the crowd by the throat and never let up utterly breathtaking. The band’s strength came in the form of understanding the parts of their songs that would best lend themselves well to moments in their set, while the songs themselves still stand the test of time to this day. Gillespie and Chamberlain’s vocal cadence and timing was top-notch at this early stage of the “classic lineup,” and their chemistry between each other was undeniable. Chris Dudley’s keys/electronica elements blended well with the dual-guitar attack from Tim McTague and James Smith, while bassist Grant Brandell would add in some great bass lines as well to round out Underoath’s attack. From the opening bars of “Young and Aspiring,” it became crystal clear that Underoath would live up to the mantra of the track’s closing lyrics of, “This is my panic! / This is my call to arms!” The band inspired a generation of fans that would follow them to this day and celebrate this momentous album with pride.

”A Boy Brushed Red…Living In Black And White” followed in the set with the now-legendary opening lyrics of “Can you feel your heartbeat racing? / Can you taste the fear in her sweat? / You’ve done this wrong, it’s too far gone / These sheets tell of regret / I admit that I’m just a fool for you / I am just a fool for you,” and it was clear that Underoath had grown leads and bounds from the early days of the band. Underoath would highlight their ability to paint with wide and vivid colors on subsequent songs like “The Impact of Reason” that accentuated the chemistry that the band’s rhythm section had with each other early on. When the screamed vocals by Chamberlain cleared way for Gillespie’s clean vocals on the chorus, it was like the parting of clouds offering a glimmer of sunshine.

Even songs like the instrumental “The Blue Note” would offer an early glimpse into Underoath’s ability to craft atmospheric tones on their records that they would later perfect on Define the Great Line. “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” remains a great example of Underoath knowing how to create a certain tone in their music and capture that moment with the utmost energy and passion. The bridge of “I’m drowning in my sleep” remains as haunting as it was intended to be on its initial delivery, and the band kicks into another gear on this section.

The speedy punk rock of “Down, Set, Go” is another marquee standout in this record that is filled with memorable moments, as it set the tone for where bands that came after Underoath would explore on their own records. This band was able to inspire so many other post-hardcore and punk bands to set the bar even higher in their artistic discovery. The abrasive screaming in “I Don’t Feel Very Receptive Today” allowed for plenty of mosh pit action in Underoath’s electric sets, while the penultimate song of “I’m Content With Losing” finds just the right blend of screamed versus clean vocals. Gillespie’s drumming on this particular track is really impactful, and he finds just the right beats to match with Chamberlain’s cadence. Everything slow builds to the closer of “Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape” that showcased Underoath’s ability to craft a creative ballad that stayed true to their core beliefs.

The deluxe version of They’re Only Chasing Safety would offer a fan favorite bonus track of “I’ve Got Ten Friends and a Crowbar That Says You’re Ain’t Gonna Do Jack” that featured a great chorus of, “Oh, you’re acting on my words / You’re acting on my words / We can start the fire that will light up the night / No, I wouldn’t be too sure, sure of you at all.” As strong as the song is from these sessions, it was a curious choice to leave off of the main LP.

Underoath will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of They’re Only Chasing Safety with a comprehensive tour and vinyl reissue of the album, and it’s easy to see why interest in both the tour and record remain at a fever pitch. The band was able to capture a wide range of emotions on this record and set the tone for their dynamic future in so many ways that continues to reignite the flame of interest in this ultra-talented band and group of musicians who continue to evolve to this day.