Broken Compass

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The debut from ex-Underoath frontman Spencer Chamberlain's new project with longtime friend and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Bowman, Broken Compass flirts with the breakdown-laden minefield that served as the theater of war for his former group, while introducing a significant amount of '90s industrial metal into the mix that suggests a post-breakup binge on bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Filter, and especially Nine Inch Nails -- Chamberlain sounds like he's exorcizing some demons with Sleepwave, and he's doing so in the style that comforts him the most. Underoath fans needn't worry though, as the band never really yields to the narcotic-induced capacity that its moniker would suggest, due in large part to Chamberlain's powerful voice and penchant for shoehorning in frequent bouts of neck-snapping brutality amidst all of the explosive and anthemic choruses and sweeping keyboard-driven vistas. Still, Sleepwave is a far more modern rock radio-ready beast than its predecessor, and songs like the soaring "Hold Up My Head," the evocative "Through the Looking Glass" and like-minded title cut, and the meaty, fist-pumping single "Paper Planes" harbor as many commercial aspirations as they do resentments -- Chamberlain was admittedly rocked by his former band's breakup -- but despite their retro-industrial trappings, they retain a great deal of the emotional heft that made Underoath so accessible.

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