Chiodos

Illuminaudio

Written by: TL on 10/12/2010 23:45:51

Allow me to be blunt: I cannot believe that Chiodos have made it as far as a band as they have. Mostly because they've had Craig Owens for a vocalist. I grant you, Owens seems to be onto something in his new project D.R.U.G.S, and I'm not getting into a discussion of whether he's a proficient singer or not. All I'm saying is that on the two Chiodos albums on which he sang, he sounded most of all like a cat having it's tail yanked violently and repeatedly. It didn't harm the debut "All's Well That Ends Well" so much because of that record being a mess of different ideas loosely fitted into schizophrenic post-hardcore songs, but when it comes to "Bone Palace Ballet", on which the band seemingly wanted to get their sound together and step up, Owens' child-wail was, as far as I am concerned, unbearable, and whether or not you people can still manage to listen to it and convince yourself it was good, I consider the split between this band and its singer one that, for whatever reason it occured, was long overdue.

So no, my expectations for the third Chiodos album, "Illuminaudio" haven't been all that high, which is why I was surprised to give it a listen and find out really how much the band has gotten it together. Essentially, Chiodos anno 2010 sound beefier than the band ever has, and they now align with contemporaries such as The Word Alive, Bless The Fall and I Am Abomination, in the pursuit of the style of super-produced metalcore that has overtaken, emo-music as the favourite genre of people with silly, multi-coloured hair-styles, similar to my own.

Fortunately for us however, Chiodos have not settled on being par for the course, rather they have successfully infused the style with a personality of their own, mainly courtesy of Bradley Bell, whose proficiency with keyboards and electronics in general make for some of the first things to appear as highligts in the process of my getting to know this album. It's not that the remaining instrumentalists are slacking off though, as far as I can hear, they are giving the similar bands I've already mentioned a run for their money, but first and foremost, it is in their cooperation with Bell's theatrics that Chiodos manage to stand out from the pack. For an example of this, I urge you to listen to "Modern Wolf Hair" and "Stratovolcano" in which the interplay between angry metalcore and sampled violins sound as sexy as I have ever heard.

There is of course also the business of new singer Brandon Bolmer, whom I find to sound partly like the departed Owens, and partly like Denmark's own Mattias Kolstrup (Dúné) - the latter comparison being impossible not to draw, given the accidental similarity between the chorus of "Illuminaudio"'s "His Story Repeats Itself" and that of Dúné's hit song "Dry Lips". Regardless, to my mind, Bolmer's cleans are a significant improvement over Owens', sounding much smoother and more comfortable in his falsetto, even though I do suspect that overdubbing has taken Bolmer's voice to places it won't consistently go live - But then that is (sadly) becoming a norm for singers in this genre (just as Beau Bokan of Bless The Fall).

When all of that is said and done however, what ends up the most appealing feature of "Illuminaudio" is how well Chiodos have managed to make their songs stand apart from each other. Even if this is fairly busy music, requiring of considerable amounts of listens before truly feeling familiar, the band have done a number of things to help you tell tracks apart. For one thing there's the weird song titles, the types of which the band have always been known to dish out, but to their credit there are also music differences to fix the listener's attention. Take the sampled strings in the songs I've already mentioned, the occasional Mars Volta-ish rhythms of "Scaremonger", the Secret And Whisper-type beauty in ballad "Notes In Constellation", or perhaps the clearly "Phantom Of The Opera"-inspired lyrics of "Hey Zeus The Dungeon". Maybe some good old-fashioned vocal hooks in "Caves" or "Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together"?

With such a richness of things to notice and remember, on top of considerable instrumental, compositional and vocal prowess, wrapped in the super-slick modern production music like this requires, I think there's only one sound conclusion to make - And that is that Chiodos have returned to - or, if you ask me; "appeared for the first time in" - relevance, coming out swinging and ready to compete with the genre's biggest contenders.

8

Download: Modern Wolf Hair; Those Who Slay Together, Stay Together; Caves; Stratovolcano Mouth, Hey Zeus The Dungeon
For The Fans Of: The Word Alive, Bless The Fall, I Am Abomination
Listen: myspace.com/chiodos

Release Date 05.10.2010
Equal Vision

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